A man from Long Island, New York, was arrested Wednesday after allegedly threatening a Republican lawmaker who voted for the Biden administration’s infrastructure package.
Kenneth Gasper, 64, was arrested following a telephoned death threat against Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-N.Y.), Nassau County police said in a statement.
Gasper “was extremely upset over an infrastructure bill” and vowed, “If I see that mother (expletive) in the street, I’m going to kill him,” according to the criminal complaint against him.
The call, made Monday, came just days after Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) tweeted that Garbarino and 12 other Republicans were “traitors” for voting for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The tweet also included the phone numbers for those GOP lawmakers.
“It’s amazing people want to kill me over paving roads and clean water,” Garbarino told BuzzFeed News.
He has also emphasized the seriousness of the issue, and said that “misinformation” spread by his House colleagues and conservative pundits has put lawmakers at risk.
“There are members of Congress that are fundraising off of their misinformation and attacking us, and it’s causing us to get death threats,” he told The New York Post.
Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said at a press conference Friday that his department has “zero tolerance for this type of behavior for any of our residents,” referring to the death threat, The Long Island Press reported.
“In the world that we’re living in today, the climate that is out there, these threats we take very seriously,” he added.
Gasper was charged with second-degree aggravated harassment and was arraigned Thursday. He pleaded not guilty, was released on his own recognizance, and was ordered to stay away from Garbarino and the aide who answered his phone.
His attorney, John Rey, has denied that Gasper made the threat.
“Ken is an ordinary American who was offended when politician Garbarino became an overnight Democrat and voted, in Ken’s view, to wreck our country,” Ray said, according to a local ABC News affiliate.
Gasper is due back in the court later this month.
Several other GOP lawmakers have reported receiving hateful calls and death threats since voting on the infrastructure bill.
The chief of the U.S. Capitol Police, J. Thomas Manger, told The Associated Press in September that his department was seeing thousands more threats against lawmakers than just a few years ago. He predicted that authorities would respond to close to 9,000 threats against members of Congress this year.