The Arkansas State Police will not open a criminal investigation into "threatening remarks" directed at legislators by a Benton County Republican, a spokesman said.
"Over the past three days Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division were made aware of emails and social media activity containing threatening remarks directed at two members of the Arkansas General Assembly," Bill Sadler, State Police spokesman, said in an e-mail Monday (April 22) to 5NEWS.
"After making contact with the individuals who may have written and transmitted the comments, the State Police has not developed any evidence that would substantiate a criminal investigation being opened.
"State Police have also been in contact with the state representatives who were the subjects of the comments, and at this time there is no reason to believe their safety is presently compromised," Sadler concluded.
Benton County resident Chris Nogy wrote a letter in the April Republican Party of Benton County newsletter promising to work to unseat GOP legislators --- since "we can't shoot them" -- who voted for the "private-option" plan that will use federal money to buy private health insurance for poor Arkansans.
The entire letter is included in this blog post below.
In the letter, Nogy appears to conclude that political action and other steps against Republicans who voted for the plan is a desirable choice since they can't be shot.
"If we can’t shoot them, we have to at least be firm in our threat to take immediate action against them politically, socially, and civically if they screw up on something this big," he writes. "Personally, I think a gun is quicker and more merciful, but hey, we can’t."
He also uses the term "bullet backstops" in referring to those Republicans.
Early Sunday (April 21), a person identifying himself as Chris Nogy responded in the Comments section beneath this blog post on the 5NEWS website. (The full content of the response also is included in this blog beneath the original "Scathing" letter that ran in the Republican Party e-mail.)
In the post on the 5NEWS site, a person identifying himself as Nogy says he is "mad" at Republicans who ran for election on the promise to defeat Obamacare but voted for the private-option plan anyway. The private-option plan recently passed both legislative chambers by slim margins, but Republican legislators and activists who oppose it liken it to supporting Obamacare because it was created under a provision of the president's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
In the "clarification" published in the 5NEWS Comments section, the person identifying himself as Nogy says he "didn't advocate violence" and "most likely won't try to kill them or harm their families."
"I mentioned violence to get people’s attention, and it worked," he writes.
Tim Summers, a former legislator serving as chairman of the Benton County Republican Committee, said the committee did not approve Nogy's letter.
"Mr. Nogy had no authority to submit it through the Benton County newsletter," Summers told 5NEWS on Saturday (April 20) after the story broke statewide on the station's website. "As a committee, we respect the right of our legislators to vote based on their own knowledge and the feedback of those they represent."
Nogy's wife, Leigh, was the county party's secretary when the letter was published, Summers said. The issue of the letter will come up for discussion soon among the executive committee members, Summers said.
In the meantime, Summers told 5NEWS on Monday he asked for, and has received, the resignation of Nogy and his wife, Leigh, from the party committee. Leigh Nogy also resigned her post as secretary, Summers said.
Summers also posted a note on the county's party's website at bentoncountygop.org, calling much of the letter from Nogy "offensive" and stressing the need for the party to implement tighter editorial control over matter submitted to the newsletter.
The newsletter containing Nogy's document, e-mailed to Republicans on Saturday and obtained by 5NEWS, was since posted on the Conservative Arkansas Facebook site and stirred angry responses from some local Republicans.
Patsy Wootton, executive director of Conservative Arkansas, said it is "outrageous" that a letter that includes implied gun threats went out in an official Republican Party e-mail.
Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, who is named in Nogy's GOP letter and was the author of legislation to reduce the state income tax, told 5NEWS, "The idea of a threat is not something that I think is a wise and appropriate part of policy debate."
Proponents of the private option measure argued that it created savings in state money, allowing for tax cuts.
Collins said he would be happy to debate Nogy or anyone else on the issue at any time.
By Saturday afternoon, Democrats began weighing in on social media sites. WIll Watson, a Democratic campaign consultant based in Fayetteville, said on Twitter: "We close the door on one of the most violent weeks in American history and the next day Benton Co. GOP suggest shooting lawmakers.
Tyler Clark, chairman of the Washington County Democrats, posted a statement on his Facebook page, saying, "There is no place in our society for violent nonsensical rhetoric. With the recent tragedies in our country, it is morally irreprehensible for this kind of statement. I am appalled and sickened by this behavior. Instead of threatening violence on each other, we should be coming together. The Benton County Republican Party should be embarrassed by this call to action made on their behalf."
In an interview Monday that aired on 5NEWS, Nogy he said his intention was not to scare anyone.
"I never meant to use violence or condone violence or suggest violence," he said.
He said the the letter was not intended for a wider audience than local Republicans.
"There is no reason that this should've gone public," he said.
Below, in its entirety, is the letter, "Scathing," by Chris Nogy in the GOP newsletter:
Before I wrote this, I asked my wife if she needed anything for this newsletter. She said she was torn between just letting the whole thing drop or writing a scathing letter or having me write a scathing letter. I realized that the reason we lost is because we are willing to just let our buddies slide even when they make the biggest mistakes of our generation, we do not have the ‘peer pressure’ factor that the Democrats have. And while I am not suggesting that we become like the Governor and start threatening our supposed friends and allies with nasty things like government audits if we don’t comply with the wishes of the constituents and the ideals of the party, we need to get a LOT tougher if we are ever to assure that events like those that took place this week don’t happen again.
Part of me feels that this betrayal deserves a quick implementation of my 2nd amendment rights to remove a threat domestic. Because no matter how much one group says it is inevitable to start down the road to socialism it isn’t as long as we use our creativity and energy to creating solutions that don’t take us that way. And it is NEVER wrong to simply stand up against an option, even though the other existing options may not be optimal either, especially when there is still time. And 2015 would have been time, especially if we had simply passed legislation that said “Arkansas will NOT be forced into implementation of Obamacare or any socialized health care or Medicaid reform at least until the end of the 2015 legislative session.” Not even an outright nullification, just buying time.
I don’t feel the same way about the Democrats as bullet backstops as I do about the Republicans who joined them. The Democrats were doing what their party told them they had to do because they were elected to do that job. We wailed and cried and threw up our hands every time the Democrat socialist Governor driven Senate and House rammed through things that we knew were dangerous, but that was the fact of the elections. Make no mistake, Arkansas is no less Democrat than it was before, it is just a lot less Obama, and we as Republicans had only one chance. That chance was to keep Obamacare from being implemented. The Democrat citizens were willing to stomach a few pro-life and pro-gun laws for us successfully keeping Obamacare out of the state, and we could have maintained our favorable status by doing just that. But now the Dems are furious because they get pro-life, pro-gun, and Obamacare under our majority, the Republicans are furious because they get Obamacare because of their own, we will NOT win in 2014, and our hope of making things better evaporated with the vote of a handful of last-minute turncoats.
So what do we do? We can’t fix this. There is no hope of repeal in the 2015 session, by that time the socialist machine will have the system already built to the point that it cannot be either controlled by us or dismantled by us. Rep. Charlie Collins refused to tell you one thing – the only way this plan leads to something better is if we are in charge of it in the future, and we will NOT be. It is like having a cage full of hungry tigers in a large room full of people, those tigers being controlled by one great animal trainer who takes orders from the leaders in the room. Someone convinces them that keeping the cage locked would cost too much money, and so they decide to open the cage because they have the animal trainer there to control the tigers, nothing is going to happen to the people in the room. Safety is guaranteed in exchange for their (the leaders, not the citizens in the room) decision to open the door. Suddenly, the animal trainer has something come up, the tigers are out in the room, and he must now go somewhere else. No matter what promises were made, the tigers will now begin killing and eating the people in the room, and even though the leaders will wring their hands and cry “I was just trying to do what was best for the budget and the people’, people start being mauled, killed, and destroyed. Families decimated, Lives destroyed. That is what will happen here, because there were some stupid people who thought they were big enough to control both the tigers and the tiger trainer, but they don’t have the power, the control, or the personal ability to do so themselves even as unempowered citizens. They passed this Socialist agenda without the most important part – a certainty that they could control it after it passes. And that is the part that will bite us all, because we will NOT be in control once it gets going, it will be the Democrats who have been, still are, and will be in the future the majority here. Better for us to have just left the cage locked and paid the lock tax.
So what do we do? While I believe that we as a party are done in Arkansas after this, if there is ANY hope of our survival, it is going to take not being forgiving. Not only for past actions, but to show those who will come in the future that the cost of failure to do the thing they were elected to do will be significant. We need to be making a point of this failure from this moment on. We need to make a public statement from our groups that we no longer support those who turned on us, that we will NOT be working to their re-election, that we will be actively seeking replacements, and perhaps even working towards recall. We as the Party have to stand up and say ‘no more – you were given a job, you campaigned on the promise to do this job, you had the ability to do this job, you had the votes each time to do this job, and yet for no legitimate reason you betrayed the trust put in you by the electorate and you are now completely and permanently politically finished.’ We need to let those who will come in the future to represent us that we are serious. The 2nd amendment means nothing unless those in power believe you would have no problem simply walking up and shooting them if they got too far out of line and stopped responding as representatives. It seems that we are unable to muster that belief in any of our representatives on a state or federal level, but we have to have something, something costly, something that they will fear that we will use if they step out of line. If we can’t shoot them, we have to at least be firm in our threat to take immediate action against them politically, socially, and civically if they screw up on something this big. Personally, I think a gun is quicker and more merciful, but hey, we can’t. But we have to do something, we have to gain control of our representatives, if we don’t then what the hell are we doing as a party except having fundraiser dinners and meetings just to raise more money for future meetings and fundraisers, and giving money to empower and elect those who would betray us without having the control to keep them in line once we do? See the pattern – you have to know you can guide the processes you begin, if you don’t, it is better not to start them. And we have to follow through, even if they are our ‘friends’, because the future of the nation depends on it.
So we CAN’T just let this drop and live quietly with our disappointment. That doesn’t fix what is wrong, and most importantly, doesn’t prevent it from happening again. Hey, I have a 13 year old daughter who after the House vote stood up in a meeting of the Republican Women of Benton County and announced that she was returning the $200 scholarship and plaque that the Arkansas Federation of Republican Women gave her because she wasn’t taking money from people who supported those who turncoated. She is telling her mom that it no longer makes any difference to be part of the Republican Party in Benton County, and that she should quit and return to doing more important things. And most important, my daughter promises NEVER to be part of this party. We can’t afford to have young people who can’t vote do this, but we are driving older people who CAN to the same conclusion, and that is disastrous. We need better, we need to have the assurance that when we promise the Democrats we can deliver on a particular agenda if they elect us, that we deliver on that agenda. We listened to the liberals and progressives this time, we didn’t bother to hear what the conservatives said (even though at the town hall meeting I was at, in Washington County, at least 60% were against the Charlie Collins / Governor Beebe plan (he claimed it was an even room, but he knew better, he was just trying to make himself feel better for accepting his silver pieces). We can’t go doing all the special things we do to get our friends elected and then not hold them fully responsible when they betray promises and trusts. We need to make points AND examples of these people, and we need everyone to know that our actions will be unpleasant, immediate, and significant. If we can’t do that, we will NEVER get the rest of the state behind us to vote us into positions of authority again. And that would be sad, because when this all comes down to it, our gun protection and our pro-life laws can be easily overturned if we are not in power at least long enough to give them some real stability – and they will not only because the Democrat majority in the state isn’t happy with these laws, but now they are out for revenge as well. To the turncoats that sunk us, thank you. It is now our responsibility to make sure that you are forever remembered in history, in big, bold, letters as the ones who placed Arkansas firmly on the path to Socialism, to the desires of Obama and Sebilius, and who made it easier for future traitors to introduce all kinds of other socialist laws and programs. You set the precedent, now I hope that we can do something to make sure the lesson learned by those who represent us in the future is that bad things will happen to you if you follow that precedent.
Below is the entire "clarification" published in the comments section early Sunday on the 5NEWS website:
This is not a retraction, this is a clarification.
I believe everything I said in my earlier newsletter editorial. But make no mistake, I am not talking about a disagreement on legislature defining next year’s car tags. Not talking about legislation changing education. I simply accept and get over decisions that were made that I feel go against the ‘spirit’ of the party, especially if the candidate made no stance on a position while running.
But when an elected representative acts counter to promises made while campaigning, specific promises made to voters to convince them to place that candidate in a position of power and authority, then I get mad. This group of Senators and Representatives all ran on the promise to defeat Obamacare in all its forms. That was a contract with the people, they made the payment of that promise in order to gain the office they hold.
The problem I seek a solution to is the turncoat, not the independent. When I vote for a person based on a promise that they will do a certain job, I expect that no matter what they are faced with after I deliver the vote I promised they will uphold their end of the bargain. Having me hand you power and authority over me by lying about what you are promising to do deserves serious repercussions. A slap on the wrist and a hope to have a better outcome next time are not acceptable responses.
Our legislators need the ability to vote their conscience on the bills presented to them within the constraints of their contract with those who elected them. Deciding after the fact that your opinion as an elected official is more important than the will of those who elected you based on your promises is a breach of contract and you should expect no less than serious anger and serious action from those whose confidence you broke.
We had the votes to accomplish the promised task. In the House, in the Senate. We voted properly. But the thugs came out, and obviously our people were more threatened by the thugs than they were by us. We need to let them know that was the wrong assumption to make. Because if we show them it was the right assumption to make, we simply lose from this moment on.
And for the record, I didn’t advocate violence. I mentioned violence to get people’s attention, and it worked. I advocated a serious political and social stand, an assured and significant negative response to any politician who breaks a primary voter / elected official promise contract. We have only one mechanism to maintain the ‘government of the people, by the people, and for the people’, and that is to elect those who promise to do as we demand they do. If we cannot make these people understand that we will not tolerate this kind of breach of contract, then we lose our ability as the people to control the government. And in this age of death threats from nameless, faceless thugs, we need these folks to know that while we most likely won’t try to kill them or harm their families, they should be much more certain of our response than fearful of the actions of those who will not identify themselves.
I believe that in a world of nameless, faceless thugs influencing our people every day, it is imperative that we become thugs with names and faces just as scary even if in a different way. If we don’t, then we lose.
Willing to sign my name again.