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article imageDramatic increase in threats against U.S. lawmakers in 2017

By Arthur Weinreb     Jul 2, 2017 in Politics
Washington - According to Paul Irving, the Sergeant-at-Arms for the U.S. House of Representatives, members of Congress have received more threats so far in 2017 than they did all last year. Irving is looking for ways to provide more funds for lawmakers’ security.
According to Irving, between Jan. 1 and Jun. 21, 2017, the U.S. Capitol Police have investigated 950 threats made against lawmakers. These threats are all as a result of the fact those who were threatened are elected representatives. This number compares to the 902 threats that were investigated during the entire year of 2016.
In a letter just made public on Friday, Irving wrote to Stephen Walther, Chairman of the Federal Election Commission, on Jun 21. The Sergeant-at-Arms asked lawmakers be allowed to use campaign funds for their personal security. Although elected representatives are prohibited from generally using campaign funds for personal use, this prohibition can be waived by the FEC.
Irving pointed out waivers have been issued in the past for members who have been threatened. The most recent example was a waiver granted to Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) who was shot in the head during a political event in 2011. The use of campaign funds is not specifically prohibited under law and the FEC has ruled in the past that if Members can show a connection between the use of campaign funds and their official activities, it will not be considered personal use.
To date, waivers have been granted but only on a case by case basis such as was allowed for Giffords. Irving is asking the FEC for clarification as to whether all Members can use these funds for residential security systems rather than just those who have received specific threats.
In the letter, Irving states in the past few years, threats against Members have increased due to the increased use of social media and the Internet. The Sergeant-at-Arms noted residential addresses of Members have been published on both the Internet and the dark web and the ability to post anonymous threats on the web make it extremely difficult for the Capitol Police to investigate. Irving wrote the vitriol against elected lawmakers culminated in the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise and others at an early morning baseball practise on Jun. 14.
The letter Irving sent formalizes what House Speaker Paul Ryan said last week. Ryan told Members the FEC has the power to issue guidance allowing all lawmakers to use campaign funds to provide for residential security systems in their homes. Earlier this week, the House passed a measure providing an additional $25,000 a year to each lawmaker to use for security while they are conducting official business.
In his letter, Irving asked for a response within seven business days.
More about US House of Representatives, federal election commission, Sergeantatarms, us capitol police, Threats
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