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Threats to Members Hard to Calculate

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Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer said alcohol and mental illness are factors in many threats against Members of Congress.

“Sen. Bunning, you motherf---er, if I lose my unemployment benefits, you know, I’m gonna blow your f---ing head off your head,” the man said, according to FBI records. “You motherf---er, and you know what? I’m comin’ after your f---ing family.”

The investigation ran cold when the FBI was unable to trace the man’s phone number. The case was closed the following month.

• On April 1, 2010, a man left seven harassing phone messages at the office of Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.).

“Congressman Costa felt threatened by the phone calls because the caller referenced his desire to ‘drag his f---ing ass out to the west side,’” if he came to Rolinda and Kerman. The caller also referenced a friend of Costa’s by name.

But even though the FBI made contact with and identified the caller, a prosecutor declined to charge the man.

“Given the absence of a direct threat, prosecution under federal statute is not possible,” according to the FBI file.

• On June 10, 2010, an email was sent through a Web form on Rep. Peter Welch’s (D-Vt.) website.

“BP is not responsible for ‘Obama’s Oil Slick,’” the email read. “If you stop the dividends when I rely on to feed my family, I will find you, and I will kill you.”

Agents tracked the email to a Georgia man, who admitted sending it.

The man agreed to pretrial diversion, including mandatory counseling and probation.

• On Oct. 1, 2010, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) received several threatening voice mail messages from the same caller, who said, “Someone moved my hand when I pointed the gun at you,” and, “You think what’s mine is yours ... kiss your ass goodbye.”

FBI agents tracked the number to a Wisconsin man whom they interviewed and found to be “disheveled in appearance and delusional.”

He made a series of outlandish claims, including that he was angry at McCain because the Senator seized his bank accounts and that the gun comment referred to an incident at a campground in Cornell, Wis., years earlier.

“A gun had been glued to (the caller’s) left hand and McCain had started a riot at the campground,” the man told agents. “During the riot, McCain was shot.”

The man also claimed he had dated Brooke Shields and Pat Benatar, was an ex-cop and a cameraman at NBC, knew President Barack Obama from when they grew up in Wisconsin and had been in the Russian space station after being rescued by astronauts.

Prosecutors declined to take action against the man because of his apparent mental health issues.

• On Nov. 3, 2010, Rep. Mike Simpson’s office received an email with the subject line “Guns.” The email read, “I want to use mine on you.”

The email was traced to Idaho Falls High School and possibly a teacher. The FBI interviewed the teacher, who told them that on the day the email was sent, he had instructed students to research Idaho’s Congressional delegation.

On Nov. 9, 2010, FBI agents interviewed a senior at the school who admitted sending the message to the Idaho Republican “as a joke.” He said he “did not mean it.”

Because the student is a minor, the assistant U.S. attorney on the case declined to prosecute.

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