The drama surrounding the contentious SAG-AFTRA presidential election took an ugly turn over the weekend when an actress tweeted of the union’s leader, “Let’s get rid of her once and for all!” and posted a GIF of a man shooting a gun.
The tweet, posted by actress Daria Rumi, was retweeted by opposition party MembershipFirst and its publicist Adam Nelson, according to Unite for Strength and USAN Leadership, which backed the election’s winner, “Beverly Hills, 90210" actress Gabrielle Carteris.
“They have broken trust and forsaken the personal safety of a SAG-AFTRA member volunteer to score political points,” Unite for Strength and USAN Leadership said in a statement on Sunday. “Regardless of any attempted damage control after the fact, it is simply inexcusable that a campaign would ever consider promoting this incitement of violence. Especially at a time in our country when the threat of gun violence is all too real.”
MembershipFirst had backed “Full Metal Jacket” actor Matthew Modine to run for president against Carteris. Modine lost the election last month, garnering 10,682 votes or 35% of the ballots cast, compared with Carteris’ 13,537 votes or 44% of the ballots cast.
Nelson, who represents Modine, on Sunday apologized for the retweet and said it was “performed in error and is expressly not a shared opinion.” He tweeted that MembershipFirst “affirmatively advocates only nonviolent protest of any election violations by Ms. Carteris.”
“The retweet has since been undone,” Nelson tweeted.
In a statement Monday, Nelson said he had tweeted about Carteris’ electioneering and saw the text of Rumi’s reply but not the GIF.
“In this case we offered an apology to anyone who may have viewed the accidental retweet which was only posted online a short time before realizing the mistake,” Nelson said in an email. He added the retweets “do not imply endorsements.”
Modine did not respond to a request for comment, but on Monday he tweeted: “There is no place for hatred within our union, or our society. We have to eliminate the lawlessness from within & replace it w compassion, wisdom & fairness for all, not some, of our members.”
@MembershipFirst @MatthewModine It was not my intention to cause you any trouble n unleash the dogs from hell, the tweet was mine n mine only. I will never do anything to jeopardize any of u as I respect the hard honest work ur doing for us, but I can't say the same about GC— Daria Rumi (@daria_rumi) September 9, 2019
The Rumi tweet brought a rebuke from David White, the national executive director of SAG-AFTRA, who sent a letter to the board that the union had “zero tolerance for this kind of conduct.”
“In an age when violence in the workplace and in public settings is something our entire nation is grappling with, there is simply no place in our union for bullying, violent discourse and threats of harm,” White wrote in his letter.
Patricia Richardson, who is president of the L.A. local of SAG-AFTRA and part of MembershipFirst, also pushed back against Rumi’s tweet. Richardson is known for portraying Jill Taylor on sitcom “Home Improvement.”
“This is not cool in this day and age with guns,” actress Richardson tweeted on Sunday. “Apologies to Gabby this is not us.”
I agree.The retweet was a mistake.The person who retweeted that on the Membership First site has been trying to reach you to talk to you? We agree with you and don’t know who the original came from.This is not cool in this day and age with guns. Apologies to Gabby this is not us.— Patricia Richardson (@prichardsonla) September 8, 2019
Rumi, who had backed Modine in the election, reiterated that the tweet was hers and that she did not intend to cause any trouble for Nelson, MembershipFirst or Modine. She said on Twitter that the clip was from the 1983 movie “Scarface” and that the post was about alleged election violations by Carteris.
“No sense of humor whatsoever, in this country everybody gets paranoid,” Rumi tweeted. According to her page on IMDb, Rumi has appeared in shows including “Sex and the City” and “The Sopranos.”
The election was contentious, with both Modine and Carteris accusing each other of breaking election rules. Modine came under scrutiny for videos on his campaign website that were produced by the New York Film Academy. Modine serves on the academy’s board and donates money for scholarships there. Legal experts said it was against federal law for union candidates to accept contributions or anything of value from a business.
Carteris said Modine’s actions “aren’t just flagrant violations of our union election rules, but of federal labor law as well.” A representative for Modine told the L.A. Times that Modine did not pay for the videos, which were educational public service announcements, and that his actions did not violate the law.
Modine had also accused Carteris of improperly using her position to boost her campaign. He criticized her for touting the union’s deal with Netflix in her candidate statement before it had been approved by the union’s board. Carteris called the claim baseless.
An Atlanta slate that supported Carteris but was not part of her ticket also faced criticism for possible violation of the federal law after it received promotion on two employers’ Facebook pages earlier this month. SAG-AFTRA had those posts taken down and offered equal time to the opposing candidates, who refused the offer. The union then notified Atlanta members that they could request a replacement ballot and re-vote if they wished.