The billionaire founder of Home Depot apologized late Tuesday for taking a page from the Tom Perkins playbook in comparing the fight against income inequality to Nazi Germany.
“My remarks were intended to discourage pitting one group against another group in a society,” Ken Langone said in a statement obtained by the New York Daily News. “If my choice of words was inappropriate — and they well may have been that — I extend my profound apologies to anyone and everyone who I may have offended.”
Langone had told Politico that populist political appeals currently en vogue parallel the rhetoric Hitler used in Nazi Germany, albeit in “different words.”
“I hope it’s not working,” he said of populist rhetoric. “Because if you go back to 1933, with different words, this is what Hitler was saying in Germany. You don’t survive as a society if you encourage and thrive on envy or jealousy.”
But Langone, a major GOP donor and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) backer, had previously spoken out against those who fight to close the income equality gap. Last year, he suggested that rich donors may stop giving to charity if Pope Francis continued to give speeches criticizing capitalism and wealth disparity.
The billionaire businessman’s latest comments riled up some progressives who called for Cuomo to condemn his backer’s statement and return the money Langone raised for him. Cuomo spokesman Matt Wing told the Daily News that Langone “apologized for using inappropriate words.”