Rap Beef N*gga!: House GOP Leader Says Bullet Fired Into Office After Health Care Vote
Rep. Eric Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the House of Representatives, said Thursday that a bullet had been fired through a window at his district office in Richmond, Virginia. He also said he had received threatening messages.
He said he would not publicly release the messages out of concern that doing so would only incite further violence.
He also accused Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine and Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland — a member of the Democratic House leadership — of “fanning the flames” of violence by using threats that have been made against Democratic members “as political weapons.”
“Enough is enough,” Cantor said. “It has to stop.”
Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse hit back against Cantor’s claims.
“We disagree with the charge made by Rep. Cantor today that Democrats are using acts of violence for political gain,” he said. “Let’s be clear: Calling on Republican leaders who have contributed in part to this anger by wildly mischaracterizing the substance and motives of health reform to condemn these acts is entirely appropriate.”
More than 10 Democrats have reported trouble since the weekend health care vote, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, told reporters Wednesday.
Windows have been smashed at Democratic offices in at least three states, and federal agents are investigating whether a cut gas line at the home of a Virginia congressman’s brother was related to the lawmaker’s yes vote.
Democratic congressional leaders have demanded Republicans join them in condemning a spate of threats and vandalism that has followed Sunday’s vote on a sweeping overhaul of the U.S. health care system.
The FBI is now looking into the threats, and at least 10 House Democrats have been given extra security.
The threats are especially vicious for Michigan’s Bart Stupak, who switched his vote to seal the deal for the bill. He has released a threatening voice mail that he received.
“Stupak, you are a lowlife, baby-murdering scumbag, pile of steaming crap. You’re a cowardly punk, Stupak, that’s what you are. You and your family are scum,” an unidentified caller said. “That’s what you are, Stupak. You are a piece of crap.”
“Go to hell, you piece of [expletive deleted]” another called said.
Read more about Stupak’s political future
In Virginia, Albemarle County fire marshals and the FBI are looking into the slashing of a propane gas line outside the home of Rep. Tom Perriello’s brother, the congressman’s office said.
A Perriello aide told CNN that the line to a propane tank on the brother’s gas grill had been severed after the brother’s home address was posted online by a Tea Party activist. Lee Catlin, a spokesman for the fire marshal’s office, said the incident “did not involve an immediate threat to occupants of the residence” but would disclose no details.
The county joined the investigation late Tuesday after a request from the FBI, Caitlin said. “Officials are taking the incident very seriously and conducting a vigorous investigation,” he said.
On Sunday, Democratic Rep. Russ Carnahan of Missouri had a coffin placed on his lawn, said his spokeswoman, Sarah Howard. She said Tea Party protesters at his office in St. Louis had a coffin with them and later brought it to his house. The coffin was later removed, she said.
House Democratic Majority Whip James Clyburn, who is African-American, said he has received a fax in his office with a picture of a noose drawn on it and had threatening telephone calls at his home.
iReport: ‘A very dangerous time for Obama,’ Dem leaders
“We’re giving aid and comfort to these people, and this stuff gets ratcheted up,” Clyburn told CNN. “We in this Congress have got to come together in a bipartisan way and tamp this foolishness down. It doesn’t make sense. That’s not what a democracy is all about.”
Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-New York, said a brick was thrown through a window at her Niagara Falls district office, and a message that referred to “snipers” was left at one of her campaign offices. In a written statement, she said GOP leaders have been “fanning the flames with coded rhetoric.”
Slaughter said federal agents and local authorities were investigating the threat and vandalism at her offices.
The top Republican in the House, Minority Leader John Boehner, told reporters that he has urged opponents to demonstrate legally.
“I’ve made statements that I understand people are angry, but violence and threats are inappropriate and irresponsible,” the Ohio congressman said. “If people are angry, they ought to register to vote and get involved in a campaign.”
But Boehner, who compared the legislation’s passage to “Armageddon,” said Democrats had not complained to him that Republicans haven’t been quick enough to condemn the threats and vandalism.
Democratic officials and liberal Web sites are also upset that Sarah Palin used an image of crosshairs in a Facebook post this week listing 20 vulnerable Democrats who voted for the legislation. She plans to target them this election year with money from her political action committee.
Palin’s team is fighting claims that she is encouraging threats of violence. One House member mentioned her Facebook posting during a Wednesday meeting on safety concerns, a Democratic source told CNN’s Dana Bash. Mention of the map brought audible groans to the room, the source said.
An adviser to Palin responded by pointing to several instances in which the former Alaska governor has urged supporters to focus their energies on civil debate and action at the ballot box, not extremist activities.
Read more about Palin’s targeting effort
The white-hot rhetoric that dominated the last several months of debate on the historic health care bill culminated in unruly protests by the Tea Party movement at the Capitol over the weekend.
Three African-American House Democrats, including civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, reported protesters shouted racial slurs at them and spat at one of them, while Rep. Barney Frank, D-Massachusetts, an openly gay House member, had anti-gay slurs yelled at him.
Republican House members encouraged protesters outside and inside the House gallery, some of whom carried messages like “Vote no or else” or “If Brown won’t stop it, a Browning will” — a reference to newly elected Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown accompanied by a silhouette of a pistol.
Since the vote, an Alabama blogger has launched a “window war” against Democrats and has kept a tally of the recent incidents of damage.
And conservative talk show host Glenn Beck told his radio audience Monday that Democrats who supported the bill would be remembered as “an enemy of the republic” and “an enemy to the Constitution.”
But he urged viewers of his Fox News television show Wednesday to avoid violence, because “radical” supporters of the Obama administration are counting on such attacks to discredit their opposition, he said.
“Not only is it completely nuts and wrong, it’s exactly what they want,” Beck said. He told viewers, “They are begging for it. You are being set up.”
But in Kansas, Democrats in Wichita are seeking to raise money over a brick thrown through the window of the party headquarters.
“At first, we thought our office was just the object of a random act of bitter violence, but now we know that’s not the case,” the Sedgewick County Democratic Party’s Web site said. “This attack was instigated, encouraged and directed by an ultra-right wing blogger and similar events occurred all over the country.”
The Web site item asked for donations to “help us get back to work.”