Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) has received multiple death threats in the days since he voted for President Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal, with the overwhelming majority of the calls coming from outside the congressman’s district.
“You’re a f---ing piece of s--- traitor. I hope you die,” the man can be heard saying. In the expletive-filled call, he goes on to say he hopes Upton’s 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 on Friday with a 228-to-206 vote, two months after it was approved by the Senate on an overwhelming 69-to-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.”
In a statement Tuesday evening, Greene stood by her tweet. Her response included Upton’s office phone number as well as the general phone number to reach members of the House.
“As a member of Congress who receives constant death threats and death wishes from the radical left, I certainly know what that feels like and I don’t condone it,” Greene said. She urged “taxpaying American citizens who pay Fred Upton’s salary” to continue call him and “the rest of the unlucky 13” and “politely say how they feel about these traitor Republicans voting to pass Joe Biden’s Communist agenda.”
Even as Greene assailed the infrastructure bill, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was defending it during an event in his home state Tuesday.
“I think it was good for the country,” he told supporters in Kentucky, according to CNN.
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 A. 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.”
Most Republicans have been silent on the recent actions of Gosar and Greene. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), a vocal critic of former president Donald Trump, criticized McCarthy and other party leaders in a tweet Tuesday night.
“A party with leaders like Kevin McCarthy, that cannot stand up to the insanity from people like Greene, Gaetz, Gosar, etc, is going to have a hard time standing up to countries like China,” said Kinzinger, who is retiring at the end of his current term.
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 more than 90 percent 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.”