The U.S. Capitol Police have investigated more threats against lawmakers in the first half of 2017 than in all of 2016. Last week, Paul Irving, the Sergeant at Arms for the House of Representatives sent a letter to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) citing the recent shooting in Alexandria and including the data on threats:
This year alone (from January l of 2017 to date), the USCP have investigated approximately 95o threatening communication messages aimed at Members because of their profile as elected representatives or Members of Congress. This number has surpassed the approximately 902 threatening communications that the USCP investigated in calendar year 2016 and constitutes the new daily threat environment faced by Member of Congress.
Irving’s letter asks the FEC to grant lawmakers the right to use federal funds to protect their offices and public events. Currently, only lawmakers who have received a threat are given that freedom:
It seems clear that the FEC has held that if a Member of Congress receives a threatening communication, based on the fact that they are a Member of Congress, campaign furids can be used for residential security systems. However, it is unclear whether other Members of the House may rely on these advisory opinions to procure residential security systems with campaign funds pursuant to 52 U.S.C. 30108.
Therefore, as this is an urgent matter, I am respectfully requesting a Letter of Guidance from the Federal Election Commission within the next 7 business days as to whether a Member of Congress may use campaign funds to install residential security systems that do not constitute structural improvements. It is my position that Members of the U.S. House of Representatives require a residential security system due to the threat environment.
What Irving is saying is that, in the current environment, every lawmaker is under threat. I wonder if that’s true. Or more precisely, I wonder if both parties are equally under threat. The letter doesn’t break down the threats by party but I suspect the big uptick in threats tracks with the “resistance” and in particular with the opposition to the GOP health reform effort. We’ve seen isolated reports of numerous threats aimed at GOP lawmakers around the country, many of which have resulted in arrests. I suspect those are just the tip of the iceberg.
If there was good reason to suspect these threats were overwhelmingly aimed at Democrats (especially weeks after a shooting that almost killed GOP lawmakers), the media would dig into the story. As it is, I think most in the media probably have the same suspicions I do about who is responsible for the sudden jump in threats, so they’ll politely ignore this.