Politics

Brat Supporter’s Death Threat to Spanberger Reappears on Facebook Page

Virginia Democrat’s campaign reported threat to police in September

Former CIA officer and Democratic candidate for the 7th district Congressional seat, Abigail Spanberger, center, speaks to supporters at a rally in Richmond, Va., Wednesday, July 18, 2018. Opposition to President Donald Trump is changing the political map for Democrats who find themselves riding a wave of anti-Trump energy to compete in areas they once left for lost. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

A death threat toward Rep. Dave Brat’s Democratic challenger from a man who commented on a Facebook post from Brat in September has reappeared after it was previously hidden from the page.

At 7:05 p.m. on September 6, a Facebook user named Rodney Arrington, who frequently comments on Brat’s official page, appeared to threaten the Virginia Republican's Democratic challenger, Abigail Spanberger.

“Take out the terrorist trainer. She’s another deep stater,” Arrington wrote.

Brat and Republican operatives in the heated 7th District race have played up Spanberger’s stint as a substitute English teacher for less than a year in the mid-2000s at the Saudi-funded Islamic Saudi Academy in Mount Vernon, Virginia.

The school earned the nickname “Terror High” after the 1998 class valedictorian later admitted to joining al-Qaida and was sentenced to 30 years in prison for plotting to kill President George W. Bush.

Spanberger, a former CIA counter-terror operative, was waiting for the CIA and U.S. Postal Inspection Service to approve her security clearance applications at the time. She spent eight years overseas with high-level security clearances.

One of Spanberger’s supporters  spotted the threat and reported it to the Democratic candidate, whose campaign filed a report with the police, documents obtained and reviewed by Roll Call show.

Another Facebook user responded to Arrington’s comment asking “Is that a threat? It sounds like a threat.”

“Yes, cupcake,” Arrington replied.

Arrington later bragged that the police showed up to his house and that they “had a good laugh.”

“Lol. The police showed up, we had a good laugh,” Arrington wrote. “Now I get to come after you for filing a false police report. Thanks cupcake.”

The day after the threat was first posted, Spanberger’s campaign notified Brat’s office, which suggested it had not, to that point, detected the message. But by the time Spanberger’s campaign reached out to Brat about the threat, Arrington’s comment had been removed or hidden from Brat’s post.

It’s unclear how Arrington's comment on Brat’s page was hidden for a time from public view or how it later reappeared.

A spokesman for Brat did not follow up on multiple requests for comment via email and phone calls.

Spanberger stopped short of blaming Brat for the threat since he cannot control what his supporters say online. But she did condemn her opponents for running an aggressively negative campaign in other ways.

“Throughout this campaign, we have seen the worst of politics, including threats online and in person at our office and home, fake campaign signs meant to misrepresent and confuse voters, and of course the release of my personal National Security Questionnaire,” Spanberger said in a statement Tuesday.

But the Democrat said she has also seen “the very best of politics across this district” as her campaign works to flip a seat that has been in Republican hands since the 1970s.

Brat has also been the target of harassment after four teenagers who were canvassing as volunteers for Spanberger’s campaign over the weekend left a note that read “rot in hell” on the congressman’s doorstep.

Spanberger’s campaign denounced the high school boys’ actions and said they would not be allowed to participate with the campaign again.

Spanberger and Brat, a tea party-aligned congressman and one of the most conservative members of the House, are locked in a pitched battle with some of the tightest polling numbers in the country.

President Donald Trump carried the district by 6.5 points in 2016, a margin multiple Democrats have erased in special elections over the last year and a half.

Last week, Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales upgraded Spanberger’s chances of winning to Toss-up.

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Correction Wednesday, 1:50 a.m. | An earlier version of this story misstated the year of the class at the Islamic Saudi Academy whose valedictorian later admitted to joining Al-Qaida. 

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