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Area Congress members receive threats

Published: Fri, March 26, 2010 @ 12:09 a.m.




Two area members of Congress said they received threats because they voted in favor of the landmark health-care bill.

U.S. Reps. John Boccieri of Alliance, D-16th, who grew up and lived most of his life in Mahoning County, and Kathy Dahlkemper of Erie, Pa., whose district includes a portion of Mercer County, said they received threats.

“Having flown missions in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan, I know what it’s like to be in harm’s way,” said Boccieri, an Air Force Reserve pilot based at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna. “But I never imagined serving in Congress could feel the same.”

Boccieri said he’s received threats — which he described as “incendiary and dangerous remarks” — against his life, the lives of his family and staff.

“As passions run deep, violence will never solve our problems,” he said.

At least 10 House Democrats reported death threats or harassment after Sunday’s vote, according to various news outlets including The Washington Post and The New York Times.

Dahlkemper said: “Regrettably, my office has received a number of e-mails, letters, faxes and phone calls that are threatening or menacing in nature as a result of my vote in favor of health-care reform.”

She also said that a “threatening letter” was received Tuesday at the Armstrong County commissioners’ office in Kittanning, Pa., where her staff has office hours twice a week.

Dahlkemper did not disclose the contents of the letter but said that county’s district attorney’s office is investigating the matter.

“Threats and insults have no place in our public discourse,” she said.

U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson of St. Clairsville, D-6th, hasn’t received any threats. But Wilson, who voted for the bill, said he was “distressed and saddened” by “the hateful speech and despicable actions of a few.”

“Whether they are threats on lives of members of Congress and their families, vandalism, or racist and hateful speech, it needs to stop,” he said. “I encourage those engaging in such behavior to take responsibility for their own actions and stop the threats before someone is seriously injured.”

A spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, who voted for the bill, said the congressman’s policy is to not make any comment regarding threats.

House Minority Leader John Boehner of West Ches-ter, Ohio, R-8th, said Thursday he understands many people are angry at Democrats about the health-care bill.

“But, as I’ve said before, violence and threats are unacceptable,” Boehner said. “They have no place in a political debate.”

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