Congress

Anti-vaxxer allegedly threatened to kill Rep. Frederica Wilson

Suspect is a Pentagon contractor who had access to sensitive information

Reps. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., right, was reportedly the target of a death threat by a man angry about a bill she introduced requiring vaccinations. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A grand jury in Maryland has indicted a Department of Defense contractor on one felony count of threatening a member of Congress.

Darryl Albert Varnum, who works out of the headquarters of the U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency, allegedly left a threatening voicemail for a lawmaker one evening in late June, according to court records.

The news was first reported by The Carroll County Times.

Varnum was allegedly incensed by a bill called the Vaccinate All Children Act of 2019, which would require children at public schools receiving federal health grants to be vaccinated, with exceptions for the child's health.

Rep. Frederica Wilson, who introduced the bill, is the lawmaker listed in court records as “United States Congressperson #1” and was the target of the threat, The Daily Beast reported. 

“I'm gonna f---ing kill your ass if you do that bill. I swear. I will f---ing come down and kill your f---ing ass,” reads  a transcript of the voicemail available through court records. 

Varnum allegedly dismissed concerns about the legal consequences of threatening a member of Congress, a violation of the section of the U.S. code dealing with treason and sedition.

“And you're a Congressperson, that’s fine. I hope the f---ing FBI, CIA and everybody else hears this s--t. If you’re taking away my rights. This is the United States of America, b----. Get the f--- out,” the transcript continues.

The caller threatens to “come down to Miami.” Wilson, a Democrat, represents north Miami in Florida’s 24th District. 

“I will come down there and personally f---ing kill you. I am dead f---ing serious. I wanna see you motherf--er at my door, if you’re legit. That HR bill you just pushed through, ah f--- you. I'll tell you what I’ll come down to Miami b----. I'll f--- you up. Like Cubans don’t even know,” the rant concludes. 

Twelve minutes after hanging up, Varnum allegedly posted to Facebook about his outrage over the vaccination bill. Even though the bill’s requirements jibe with the recommendations of public health officials, the post likened the bill to the Holocaust, a trope sometimes invoked by “anti-vaxxer”  conspiracy theorists.

According to the criminal complaint filed to the U.S. District Court in the District of Maryland, Varnum worked at Fort Meade as a private contractor for the agency providing technological support to the military and had “access to sensitive information.”

Wilson’s office has experience handling violent threats. She became the target of death threats, including threats of lynching and nooses through the mail, during a high-profile feud with President Donald Trump and his then-Chief of Staff John Kelly in 2017. The threats became so severe that she could not cast votes.

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