It’s official: the apparent uptick in threats against members of Congress rooted in anger over the health care bill is a genuine trend, law enforcement officials tell the Washington Post.
There have been 42 threats reported by lawmakers in the first quarter of 2010 compared to 15 in the last quarter of 2009, Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer tells the Post. The paper continues:
“The incidents ranged from very vulgar to serious threats, including death threats,” Gainer said. “The ability to carry them out is another question and part of an investigation to determine what, if any, appropriate steps to take.”
Nearly all of the recent threats appear to come from opponents of the health-care overhaul, said Gainer, who also served four years as chief of the U.S. Capitol Police.
The new numbers come out at the end of a week in which federal authorities have brought criminal charges against two men — in Washington state and California — accused of making lurid death threats against Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
In the Washington case, the accused is 63-year-old Charles Alan Wilson, who allegedly left death threats for Murray in the days surrounding the passage of the health bill in the House late last month. He also apparently attended an anti-Murray, anti-health reform Tea Party protest in the same period.
In San Francisco, Gregory Giusti, 48, is accused of making dozens of phone calls to Pelosi’s homes and offices. In one voicemail, he allegedly said, “If you like your home in [Northern California], don’t vote for the healthcare bill.” Giusti’s elderly mother in an interview with a local TV station partially blamed Fox News for radicalizing her son.
You can see a detailed map of the more serious publicly reported threats against Democrats here.
A Philadelphia man was also charged late last month with threatening to kill Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) in a YouTube video, but that was not directly linked to the health care bill. Earlier this week, Norman Leboon was declared unfit to stand trial and ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment.