Someone Is Threatening House Republicans

republican 2[Salon, BuzzFeed] Blind item! Which member of Congress is (probably) emailing other members crazy threats?

BuzzFeed’s John Stanton reports that a number of House Republicans received emails — sent to their internal congressional email addresses, addresses that are extremely difficult to find for non-members — in which an anonymous person threatened to politically ruin members who vote to raise the debt limit. The author first sent the cryptic threats to Speaker John Boehner and Rep. James Lankford, and then forwarded the emails to other members.

The email to Boehner asks him to stop “lying to the American people in re. the debt limit,” arguing (with Forbes and Wall Street Journal opinion page assists) that not raising the debt limit wouldn’t lead to default and widespread economic calamity. The email to Lankford is much more amusingly threatening, saying “see you soon” and then attaching another email from someone named “exposethefrauds” containing a spreadsheet of Republicans who’ve voted to raise the debt limit in the past.

Who could’ve sent these strange emails?

“It’s got to be another member. Probably one of the crazy ones,” said a Republican who had seen the email, which was sent from an anonymous email address,

Yes, Republicans also think of certain other Republicans as “the crazy ones.” No, those Republicans do not generally have policy beliefs that differ significantly from those of the crazy ones. One issue that does divide them, though, is the debt ceiling. “Sane” Republicans exploit the regular mandatory debt ceiling vote by falsely claiming that raising it incurs additional debt, while understanding that raising the limit is necessary. “The crazy ones,” though, genuinely believe that not raising the debt limit wouldn’t end up causing an economic catastrophe, or that somehow causing that catastrophe is necessary in order to finally shrink our bloated federal government.

What makes “the crazy ones” crazy, in fact, is that they genuinely believe the cynical lies — about government debt, global warming, taxes, healthcare, immigration, Democratic Party fiscal policies and so on — that the non-crazy ones have been feeding the rubes for years.

Here, then, is another consequence of encouraging a bit of paranoid conspiratorial delusion and fiscal magical thinking among your base for decades: The crazy letters are coming from inside the House. Various people on the inside now actually believe these formerly convenient fictions! If the emails didn’t come directly from a member, they were most likely sent from someone who got the list of internal email addresses from a member.

So who was it?


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  1. Mtlmeee says

    I have no idea. I have a hard enough time trying to keep up with our crazy politicians here in Canada! The politicians are selling us out all over the world. The “Hunger Games” are going to be a reality soon unless people wake up and do something.

  2. minx says

    I’m going to go with Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX) just because he’s a lunatic. Oh, and this debt ceiling brouhaha is nonsense–Ronald Reagan raised it EIGHTEEN times and George W. Bush, seven. But, hmm, we never heard about it until Obama needed to do it–wonder why?

    • missmissy says

      Nice one! I will look into him. And yes you are absolutely right about the debt ceiling. Data is already showing that there will be no need to continue to do this in coming years. It is a temporary and appropriate solution.

    • missmissy says

      Aggg – I am family with the church he attends in TX. He isn’t in my district so I had forgotten about him. You’re right he is a nut. I do wonder why now though. He has been in the house a relatively long time though. I wonder if someone who has just figured out that they have “power”now with access to the email list, isn’t the culprit. Maybe even an aid.

    • TeacherKat says

      Minx – I take issue with the assumption that is all about race. Many Republicans and libertarians like myself were against raising the debt limit when Bush was in office (I was to young to know/care/understand everything when Reagan was in office.). At some point we are going to have to pay up so I support those that want to limit spending and I don’t support those that don’t. Simple as that.

      • minx says

        I didn’t say it is about race, my conclusion is that Obama is a Democrat who has had to deal with a hostile and oppositional Congress who used a simple procedure, raising the debt limit, to score political points.

  3. bec215 says

    As much as Americans love to hate politicians, they have no idea how dangerous it is to actually send political neophytes to Washington.

    As annoying as Michele Bachmann is, I think she’s actually too savvy to play it this way. Ted Cruz is too publicly visible – this would be something done by a less visible insider, because Bachman or Cruz would just make this threat publicly for the PR boost. That also rules out Rand Paul.

    That leaves my guess as Paul Gosar, Tea Party leader and activist who seems to be more concerned with building a TP power base in Congress than taking care of business.

    Kudos, Ace, for knowing that while D.C. may not be sexy on the surface, intrigues and scandals abound!

    • BigRed says

      I live in Minnesota, and I’m politically active. This is exactly the sort of thing that Michele Bachmann would do, and she is not “too savvy” to do this. The quoted text of the Boehner email also sounds like her.

      Bachmann’s political history is filled with moments where it becomes clear that her craziness overwhelms her common sense (if she has any). For example, about 10-12 years ago, there was a gay rights rally on the steps of the Minnesota state capitol – and Bachmann got caught hiding behind some nearby bushes spying on the rally. (And she denied it,, even after she was caught). Another example is the false link between vaccination and mental retardation she asserted during her presidential campaign. Time and time again she goes overboard with the apocalyptic rhetoric – whether it’s Obamacare leading to concentration camps, or banning incandescent light bulbs leading to Nazism. The savvy Republicans will hint at this stuff, but never actually go there. Bachmann goes there, and then some.

      Bachmann is also exceptionally thin-skinned. She is not running for re-election this year, largely because she wants to avoid any discussion of the “borrowed email list” scandal from her Iowa presidential campaign – a decision which is absurd, as many politicians have survived much worse scandals. Bachmann’s MO is to make the election all about the other guy, and is afraid of a race in which she might take even light criticism of her ethics.

      The anonymous part also sounds like her to me, too.

      • KWDragon says

        I particularly like your logic regarding the fact that Bachmann doesn’t really have anything to lose at this point. Threatening emails are like a nuclear option, and she is clearly “off” enough to go for it.

  4. meemo506 says least some of them don’t believe the ridiculous bullshit they spout? lol

    No idea. I’d say a Tea Party-er but who the hell knows?

  5. mostlylurker says

    This is why “being fair to both sides” is a false narrative. Discuss complex and controversial policy rationally. They’re not football teams

  6. missmissy says

    Cruz of course is a likely culprit. However my guess is that a newly elected house member (low guy on the totem pole and a nobody) leaked the addresses and some crazy PAC is sending the email. I would also suspect the Koch brothers, but for the fact that subtlety and anonymity is not their style. They would just outright threaten these “moderates”.

    Definitely someone elected in 2013 at the latest 2011… there are a couple of junior congressmen from AZ . But this is someone who has not been in Congress long enough to have been “socialized” into Congress. He/She is not loyal to the body not does he understand Congressional culture/propriety.

  7. I Am PunkA says

    Being from the House makes this trickier. If it was the Senate, Senator Cruz would be it, then maybe Senator Lee or Rand Paul. But the House? So many more choices, but I’ll go with Tim Huelskamp of Kansas.

  8. Tkdgypsy says

    It was probably some crazy leftist trying to stir up trouble. They’re known for stretching the truth. Like if Al Gore had picked global cooling as a threat to advance his political agendas maybe I’d have believed him.

  9. teresamac says

    I have more than one guess, but I am going to stick with this one, it must be Louie Gohmert (R)Texas, because he is so crazy.
    Yes this is a link to all the crazy things Gohmert has said, remember Gohmert’s Terror Baby conspiracy.. Gohmert has repeatedly claimed that terrorists are impregnating women, sending them to the US, waiting for the babies to be born as “anchor babies,” flying them back to wherever they came from, waiting twenty to thirty years so the babies can grow up and be trained as terrorists, and then sending them back to the US where they can gain easy entry to blow up the country.
    So I could definitely see him doing this, although I am sure there are several TBags who are crazy and would go this far. It’s just that we know about Gohmert, so I am going to pick him.

  10. iheartkoko says

    There are so many crazies to choose from! I could so see Paul Ryan doing this. He likes to get in front of the camera spew lies. He’s a shady weasel & probably thinks he’ll get further with his agenda by making anonymous threats.

  11. Fergus says

    Hillary. She is going to get blamed for everything once she gets in. The employer deferment on health insurance is going to expire just as she starts her 2016 run. Smack! Right in the kisser… She can’t blame it back on Obama for the usual reasons.

    • Jack Draper says

      “Which MEMBER OF CONGRESS…” I know reading is difficult, but trying sounding out the words very slowly.

      • Fergus says

        Jack: Good advice. You go back and read it again. It says “probably” a member of congress. Then it later says “anonymous”. Give Hillary a kiss for me. Oh, that’s right…

      • Jack Draper says

        Even the REPUBLICANS don’t think it’s Hillary. You’re on your own on Numbskull Island, on this one.

  12. Catchandrelease says

    This came from the White House. Their keeping the Republicans distracted, while steamrolling the country.

  13. dontpanik says

    I’m going with none of the above. If you think there are crazies in the house (you’re right), they are nothing compared to the Fox news watching, frothy, whack-jobs that believe all the crap they’re spilling. You don’t think one of them could get ahold of some e-mail addresses? puh-lease!

  14. zephyr66 says

    My first thought was that it must be another member of Congress, since these internal email addresses are not readily available to just anyone. Since they were sent to House reps and not Senators (that we know of), that would seem to point to another member of the House. A lot of the ‘crazier’ ones have been guessed – Bachmann, Gohmert, King – and one of them could have become unhinged and done something like this. But what stands out is that James Lankford received this email as well, he is certainly well-known around Oklahoma as a representative there but isn’t in the Republican leadership or too noteworthy outside the state. Towards the bottom of the buzzfeed article he is quoted as saying that the email addresses him as Jim, and nobody calls him that, so he supposes that it was written by somebody who wanted to look like they were in the inner circle of governmant but really isn’t.

    A little digging (hey, I’m bored tonight, LOL) led me to the name Al Gerhart, a Tea Party leader from Oklahoma who is awaiting trial later this year for trying to blackmail a state senator from Oklahoma via email a few years ago. He wanted the state senator to pass a law there concerning making sure the state ignores some UN plan, it gets a bit confusing there, but he is charged with not only blackmail but also violating what’s called the Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act. If he were somehow to get access to the email addresses of members of the US House, maybe he would try to push his agenda nationally (and probably view it like some sort of heroic gesture or something). Lankford is running to be a US Senator in Oklahoma this fall, and even though both the current senators there – Coburn and Inhofe – are kinda wacky, they both seem too establishment to do something like this.

    Long explanation, but my guess is Al Gerhart. Don’t know if I can link on here but there are articles about him on the websites of HuffPo, KFOR and NewsOK, and probably elsewhere as well.

    • zephyr66 says

      Actually, according to wikipedia, James Lankford is the chair of the House Republican Policy Committee and the fifth person down on the Republican totem pole in the House. So I guess he is kind of in a leadership position in the House, my bad. But my guess is still Al Gerhart, for the above stated reasons.

  15. Stars In My Eyes says

    Ace, will you please stick to Hollywood? I don’t like politics, all it does is cause quarreling.

  16. tarap says

    I’m with gotu. Grover Norquist. He’s more powerful than the actual members of congress because he’s got he money to spend. He’s in some sort of decline and his entire platform is built on being anti-tax.

    • Minderella says

      In just about every single comment section on any given story posted on the internets, be it mildly political or about something as innocently adorable as kittens, there is someone who will try and blame President Obama for something deeply sinister. It’s as if some people believe he truly is omnipotent, and I’m not talking about liberals.

      • LuseLips says

        “there is someone who will try and blame President Obama”

        That’s because their IQ is in the double digits. They think the three branches of government are hanging from a cherry blossom tree in Washington.

  17. Cranny says

    I don’t know, but these lying, greedy, power-craze politicians are killing our once great country by lowering the safety standards of factories, poisoning our waters, their employees getting sick or killed and be liable for all of it. Debts are going higher because of they worried more for their backers or their bank accounts and not for ordinary Joe or Jane.

    We just need to get rid of career politicians. I hate politics.

    Sorry, Ace.

  18. travoltasbeard says

    Hmmm. …I think this May be a false flag!

    I think it may be Eric Swalwell from California. Smart enough to fool those. He once said “it is easier to fool people than to convince them that they are being fooled.” With amazing wisdom like that, he looks just like the type of savvy politico that could wedge the oligarchs…I mean the right

  19. Tyger Lily says

    This behavior seems so obviously like some crazy Tea-Partier threatening other Republicans. So it’s either this, or more likely someone who is trying to make it LOOK like some crazy Tea-Partier which completely opens up the field. I would think if it were actually a T.P. they would try to do everything they could think of to make it look like someone else entirely. I don’t think this is an actual member of congress, it’s more likely a staffer. I think they’re probably doing this on their own, independently, without the congress-person’s knowledge, because if others were involved the secret would already be out because politics is about as cutthroat as it gets and everyone is trying to “get a leg up”. I would look at the staff of everyone, especially those who first got letters, because the sender would want to make their congress-person look like a victim and less likely involved. Of course if it’s just some nut then I guess all bets are off.

  20. Minderella says

    Trying to single out one crazy Republican out of the bunch is an almost impossible task. That being said, my guess is Ted Cruz, because he’s beyond insane.

  21. shelaur22 says

    Who would ultimately benefit from sending or receiving these emails? I just binged on the entire Season 2 of House of Cards so perhaps I’m still in Everything’s a Conspiracy Mode. I think it’s an inside job to (a) start a witch hunt in the Democrats, and (b) to deflect attention towards some threatening emails sent to Congressmen and away from the fact that they want to raise the debt ceiling.

  22. KWDragon says

    I think it is funny that when we start to debate the list of whack-a-doodle Republicans, we have a tough time narrowing down the field. So many candidates from which to choose!

    I suspect that if we needed to generate a list of whack-a-doodle Democrats (or Libertarians or whatever) for a similar blind, we would have an equally impressive list.

    This alone points to the sad state of affairs in American politics. Thinking about it that way, I find it much less funny.

  23. Littlehorse says

    Thi shas to be one of the Koch brothers’ lackeys. There are too many of them in Congress to name!