Capitol Police have reported an increase in threats against lawmakers since January 6, 2021. NBC News cited the Chief of Capitol Police, J Thomas Manger, as saying there were around 9,600 threats in 2021, up from more than 8,000 in 2020. As prominent Democratic women, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) are common targets for threats, and sometimes from within the walls of Congress as well as from the public at large. The FBI takes every threat seriously and investigates all deemed credible.
Now a Florida man has pleaded guilty to threatening to kill Ocasio-Cortez (affectionately dubbed “AOC” early on in her career) and Pelosi, as well as Kim Foxx, a prominent district attorney in Illinois.
Paul Vernon Hoeffer admitted calling Pelosi’s Washington office in March 2019, threatening “to come a long, long, way” to “rattle her head with bullets and cut her head off”. He admitted a call to Foxx, who is a Black woman, on the same day, saying bullets would “rattle her brain”. In November 2020, Hoeffer called the office of Ocasio-Cortez, a leading progressive from New York. This time, the DoJ said, Hoeffer “threatened that he would ‘rip her head off’, and told her to sleep with one eye open”.
— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) January 21, 2022
Citing the plea agreement, NBC News reported that Hoeffer also “warned of ‘all-out war’ and a ‘civilian army’” and made racist remarks in his call to Foxx. Hoeffer made his calls before the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in which supporters of Donald Trump sought to overturn his election defeat.
Thank you to the members of law enforcement who take these threats seriously and bring the perpetrators to justice. https://t.co/5uzoD1hLag
— Kim Foxx (@KimFoxx) January 21, 2022
Hoeffer will face up to 15 years in prison at his April sentencing.