Extra security measures have been required at the home of a Kentucky Republican senator after a call for activists to confront Republicans, Rand Paul’s wife said in a letter she released.
In the letter, which was posted by CNN and other media outlets, Kelly Paul asked that New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker retract his reported call in July for people to “get up in the face of some congresspeople.”
However, Sen. Cory Booker’s spokesman disputed Kelley Paul’s description of his remarks and the intention of those remarks. He was talking to activists trying to end homelessness when he said “get up in the face of some congresspeople and tell them, look, I’m advocating for easy stuff,” said Booker spokesperson Jeff Giertz.
The senator’s words were “deceptively edited” as part of a wider problem with right-wing websites dedicated to spreading “disingenuous and dishonest information about political opponents,” Giertz said.
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“The reality is this: Senator Booker has always spoken out against needless partisanship and urged Americans to treat one another with respect when they disagree,” Giertz said. “‘I subscribe to the idea of radical love,’ Senator Booker said earlier this summer when asked about calls for people to confront elected representatives. ‘You should confront injustice, but do it in the ways that Martin Luther King did it … who always did it by recognizing the dignity of even those who you oppose.’ Violence against anyone because of their political beliefs is unquestionably wrong and deserves condemnation.”
Nevertheless, Kelley Paul said in the letter that the family has endured violence and threats at a “horrifying level” over the last 18 months. In the latest attempt at intimidation, someone posted Paul’s address and cellphone number online, she said.
“I now keep a loaded gun by my bed. Our security systems have had to be expanded,” Kelley Paul wrote in the letter. “I have never felt this way in my life.”
U.S. Capitol Police announced Wednesday that Jackson A. Cosko, 27, had been charged in the leaking of some senators’ addresses and numbers, but it wasn’t clear if Cosko was charged in connection with the release of information about Paul or fellow Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell.
In addition to the online leak of personal information, her husband had been “besieged” at an airport by activists in the last few days, Kelley Paul wrote in her letter to Booker. It is unclear to which incident she was referring, but The Center for Popular Democracy recently released a video that appears to show a group of three women trying to talk to Sen. Rand Paul in an airport.
“We deserve to have a conversation with you,” one of the women says in the video. “You’re a senator, you represent us.”
“Preventing someone from moving forward, thrusting your middle finger in their face, screaming vitriol -- is this the way to express concern or enact change?” Or does it only incite unstable people to violence,” Kelley Paul wrote in her open letter.
Paul’s concerns come not long after Republican President Donald Trump was criticized repeatedly for language used at rallies and appearances that some said could incite violence against those who oppose him.
Kelley Paul also mentioned in the letter an attack on Sen. Rand Paul that occurred on Nov. 3, 2017. Paul suffered several broken ribs and had fluid buildup in his chest when he was tackled on Nov. 3, 2017, outside his Bowling Green home. He subsequently endured pneumonia.
Referencing jokes that had been made about the attack by Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes and actress and singer Bette Midler, Kelly Paul wrote “I hope that these women never have to watch someone they love struggle to move or even breathe for months on end.”
She urged Booker to “condemn violence, the leaking of elected 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.”
To read the full letter, click here.