Rand Paul (R-Ky.)’s wife, Kelley, has penned an open letter to Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) following threats against her family.
In a commentary published by CNN on Wednesday night, she calls on Booker to condemn violence and to retract his comments urging supporters to “get up in the face of some congresspeople.”
What’s the background?
Speaking at the National Conference on Ending Homelessness in late July, an emotional Booker urged the audience to be aggressive in their activism, saying, “Go to the Hill today. Please, get up in the face of some congresspeople.”
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Booker isn’t the only Democrat in recent months to rally for the harassment of political rivals. In June, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) encouraged supporters to find officials in the Trump administration out in public, “create a crowd” and “tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”
But Kelley Paul’s letter is addressed to Booker because he and Sen. Rand Paul have worked together on criminal justice legislation. She told Booker that she and her husband respect him, and called on him to retract his statement amid the continuous threats against elected officials and their families.
What did she say?
Kelley Paul wrote to Booker, “Earlier this week, Rand was besieged in the airport by activists ‘getting up in his face,’ as you, Senator Booker, encouraged them to do a few months ago.
“Preventing someone from moving forward, thrusting your middle finger in their face, screaming vitriol — is this the way to express concern or enact change?” she continued, “Or does it only incite unstable people to violence, making them feel that assaulting a person is somehow politically justifiable?”
Kelley Paul explained that someone just recently posted her husband’s cellphone number and their family’s home address on the internet, after 18 months of enduring “violence and threats of violence at a horrifying level.”
Rand Paul was on the baseball field at the GOP congressional baseball practice in June 2017, when multiple people were shot and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) was nearly killed by an attacker targeting Republicans. Kelley Paul recalled “the pure relief and gratitude that flooded [her] when [she] realized Rand was okay.”
But in November, Rand Paul was attacked in his own yard by a neighbor, leaving the senator with six broken ribs and lung damage. Kelley Paul listed numerous public figures who joked about the incident and even hailed the attacker.
“I hope that these women never have to watch someone they love struggle to move or even breathe for months on end,” Kelley Paul said to them.
In July, U.S. Capitol Police arrested a man who allegedly threated to kill Rand Paul and chop up his family with an ax.
Kelley Paul closed her letter to Booker by pleading, “I would call on you to retract your statement. I would call on you to condemn violence, the leaking of officials’ personal addresses (our address was leaked from a Senate directory given only to senators), and the intimidation and threats that are being hurled at them and their families.”