Michigan congressman receives death threats after voting for bipartisan infrastructure deal
WASHINGTON - Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., has received multiple death threats in the days since he voted for President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal, with the overwhelming majority of the calls coming from outside the congressman’s district.
In a CNN interview Monday night, Upton played the audio of one of the calls, which he said came from a man in South Carolina.
In the expletive-filled call, the man called Upton a “traitor,” and said he hopes Upton, his family and his entire staff die.
An Upton spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
Upton told CNN his office has received several such calls after a House colleague tweeted the names and office phone numbers of the Republicans who voted in favor of the bill. The measure passed the House Friday on a 228-206 vote, two months after it was approved by the Senate on an overwhelming 69-30 vote.
“I have a colleague, as you know, that put out the phone numbers of the 13 of us that voted that way,” Upton said. “I’d be glad to defend that vote. We’ve been working really since last spring on a bipartisan bill.”
Upton did not name the colleague during the CNN interview, but in an interview with the Detroit News, he pointed to a tweet by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.
Greene said last week that any House Republican who backed the measure would be “a traitor to our party, a traitor to their voters and a traitor to our donors.” After the vote, she tweeted the names and phone numbers of 12 of the 13 Republicans who voted in favor of the bill, which she described as “Joe Biden’s Communist takeover of America.”
A Greene spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Upton is only the latest member of Congress to face harassment, threats and abuse after being targeted by a colleague.
On Monday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., condemned an altered, animated video posted by Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz. The video depicted Gosar killing Ocasio-Cortez and swinging two swords at Biden.
Gosar, Ocasio-Cortez said in a tweet, will probably “face no consequences” because House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., “cheers him on with excuses.” McCarthy’s office has not responded to repeated requests for comment, while Gosar’s office has dismissed concerns about the video by saying, “Everyone needs to relax.”
In the Detroit News interview, Upton described the threatening calls as a sign of a “polarized, toxic environment” that’s “worse than I’ve ever seen before.” His office said that more than 90% of the calls have been coming from outside Upton’s district. The congressman told CNN that the uptick in threats “truly is frightening,” particularly for members of his staff.
“We’ve seen civility really downslide here,” he said. “I’m concerned about my staff. They’re taking these calls. There are threats to them.”