Newspaper: Threats against members of Congress nearly triple, linked to health care overhaul

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Growing number of threats target federal lawmakers

WASHINGTON — Ranging from vulgar language to talk of murder, threats against senators and representatives nearly tripled in recent months as the health care overhaul sparked public anger, The Washington Post reported.

House and Senate lawmakers reported 42 threats from January to March, compared with 15 in the last three months of 2009, Senate Sergeant at Arms Terrance W. Gainer said in a story posted on the newspaper’s Web site late Thursday. Nearly all the threats, including at least three that led to arrests, appeared to come from people who opposed the health care bill Democrats championed and President Barack Obama signed into law last month.

Most of the threats were aimed at members of the House, said Gainer, the former chief of the U.S. Capitol Police.

“The incidents ranged from very vulgar to serious threats, including death threats,” he said. “The ability to carry them out is another question and part of an investigation to determine what, if any, appropriate steps to take.”

A man has been charged in San Francisco with making dozens of threatening calls to the home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and to her husband’s office. A man arrested near Yakima, Wash., has been charged with leaving threatening messages at the office of Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. In Philadelphia, a man has been charged with threatening in a YouTube video to kill Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., and his family.

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