Saturday, October 24, 2009

What Happened To The Death Threats, Congressman Baird?

There was a lot of noise made back in August of this year over Congressman Brian Baird, (D. Wa.) canceling out on all of his town halls over alleged death threats he claims he received.

Baird was under fire from both sides for not holding face to face meetings with constituents and was strongly criticized for incendiary comments made comparing town hall attendees to “Nazi’s,” “Brown Shirts,” “Timothy McVeigh” and the like, which he eventually apologized for and agreed to hold some town halls.

The day after the first town hall, Baird again came under heavy criticism for what was perceived to be yet another incendiary comment at a local Rotary Club luncheon where he said, “If there is a Ryder truck parked out front, it has my name on it.”

The comment drew strong criticism from the Clark County Republican Party as Clark County Conservative previously noted at Brian Baird Steps On His Tongue Again.

The Columbian, the paper of record for Clark County strongly condemned the criticism. Staff writer Kathie Durbin, who was present at the luncheon and must have missed the “threat disclosure” herself as she saw fit not to mention it in her first article on the luncheon, wrote the condemnation of the GOP criticism in her piece, Death threat disclosure by Baird draws criticism.

Previously we had only heard about the faxed image of Barack Obama as the joker and now we heard about a phone message left at his office allegedly saying, “You think Timothy McVeigh was bad, there is a Ryder truck out there with your name on it.”

Naturally, such a comment must be taken seriously and Baird’s office staff claimed to have reported the comment and fax to the Secret Service and to the Capitol Police in Washington D.C.

A local blogger called the Capitol Police to inquire about a police report and said he was told no such police report existed. The Columbian’s managing editor, Lou Brancaccio also placed calls to the Capitol Police and wrote he was told that there was an ongoing investigation of an unspecified nature.

Kathie Durbin wrote a more specific account claiming the Columbian was told, “A matter was brought to the attention of Capitol Police from Congressman Brian Baird’s office. But we cannot comment on any details of any ongoing investigation.”

A comment left on a September 6 Brancaccio column, There He Goes Again asked about whether or not any additional information had come about from the investigation into the death threats allegedly received and Lou replied, “I've spoken with law enforcement several times since we reported that the matter was brought to their attention. (Which, as you recall was the large issue at hand at the time.) No additional info was given.”

It seems that since that comment by Lou Brancaccio in September a very strange thing has happened in regards to this death threat and the investigation.


Wondering why we have not heard anything more about this in nearly 2 months, I emailed Lou Brancaccio Thursday October 22 asking about the status of any updates on the investigation, whether settled or still ongoing and received in reply, “No update Lew.”

No curiosity on what we were told was “the large issue at hand at the time?” No follow up from the media? No questioning whether or not we have some loon in our community who feels death threats to elected officials is okay?

I didn’t bother emailing Kathie Durbin because she never replies to me anyways. But, still curious I did call Congressman Baird’s office in Washington D.C. to ask about the status of any investigation.

Almost as soon as I asked I was placed on hold for a few moments and the young man on the other end came back on saying he “was not privy to any such information” and that there was no one in the office who had such information.

A little later the same day I called Baird’s Vancouver office with the same question and again was told no one was present who had any such information. I was invited to leave a message with Kelly Love, Baird’s District Manager asking her, which as of this writing has not been returned.

In both phone calls I envisioned from the answerers tone of deer caught in a cars headlights, shocked surprised and not knowing what to do.

After this length of time shouldn’t constituents have heard some sort of update on such a serious matter?

I have to wonder why, since even Lou Brancaccio stated it was a “large issue,” that our local journalists lost interest and have not followed up on the charge in 2 months, especially since in early September Brancaccio stated he had called the Capitol Police “several times?”

If a serious threat was received and the investigation showed that, shouldn’t we have an arrest of a suspect?

If it was a ploy by Baird to draw heat away from his initial refusal to hold town halls, aren’t we also entitled to hear that as well?

Candidate running against Baird for Washington’s Third Congressional District, David Castillo, has been calling out Baird for his hypocritical grandstanding in trying to appear as if he isn’t a liberal and that he has been diligently representing constituents, when in fact, he hasn’t.

Has Baird sold us a bill of goods on these death threats that was supposed to just go away and be forgotten by now?

I would hate to think that Baird’s claims of death threats was little more than a sympathy play back in August, but given the lack of curiosity seen in a supportive press and his lack of straight forwardness with us on the investigation, what are we left to think?

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