Kentucky candidate apologizes after he's 'condemned’ for threatening tweet to congressman

A Republican candidate for Kentucky secretary of state tweeted Tuesday what could be construed as a threat to a Democratic congressman.

The FBI in Louisville said it was aware of the tweet Carl Nett made about U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth and the agency is working “with our law enforcement partners to determine the best course of action. The FBI takes seriously all threats of violence.”

The Republican and Democratic parties condemned Nett’s tweet, which was a response to a Yarmuth tweet on gun control.

Yarmuth of Louisville tweeted Monday about his pride in his F rating from the National Rifle Association. Yarmuth, who has been outspoken about Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s opposition to gun control, posted a photo of Yarmuth wearing an “F” button and invited his colleagues to wear their own F ratings every day “until the GOP finally stands up to the gun lobby and helps pass common sense gun safety legislation.”

In a since-deleted response to Yarmuth’s tweet, Nett asked Yarmuth to “move it over just a bit. I was trained center mass,” potentially suggesting the button should be centered on Yarmuth’s body to make a better target.

Nett offered an apology Tuesday evening, saying he had joined “the long list of imperfect human beings with ‘foot-in-mouth’ disease.”

“To the extent that anyone, including and most especially Congressman Yarmuth or members of his family, felt sincerely threatened or even offended by today’s social media post, I offer my sincere apology to them,” he wrote on Twitter. “I recognize that my attempt to be clever was far from clever, particularly in light of politically motivated acts of violence against elected officials — from the shooting of Republican congressman at a softball practice to the blindside attack on our own Senator, Rand Paul.”

Nett is a former U.S. Secret Service and CIA officer who last month declared his intention to seek the Republican nomination for Secretary of State next year.

After he deleted his first tweet, Nett said he would have died for politicians he served under, despite his political stance.

“Friends, I protected Barack Obama, John Kerry, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton,” he said. “I voted for none of them. I would have DIED for any of them. My oath is to the Constitution. ALL politicians should keep that oath, first and foremost.”

Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman Ben Self said Nett’s comment about Yarmuth “is not only alarming but terribly offensive given the numerous shootings, including one in Great Mills, Md., today.”

“ obviously unfit to be elected for or hold any Kentucky office,” Self continued. “Any threats of violence cannot be tolerated in our current political or public forums.”

The Louisville GOP condemned Nett’s tweet “in the strongest of terms.”

“This tweet is especially disturbing in light of recent attacks on Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) and our own Senator Rand Paul,” the Louisville GOP tweeted.

Nett’s father, Carl A. Nett, served in the state House of Representatives for 20 years.

Mike Stunson: 859-231-1324, @mike_stunson