A New York man was arrested for making a death threat against Rep. John Katko over the net neutrality debate, the latest in a string of threats from advocates of the liberal policy.
Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai has received numerous threats since announcing the agency's intention earlier this year to repeal the Obama era rules that expanded federal regulation over the internet.
Katko, a Republican who represents upstate New York and has no role in the FCC agenda, received a threatening voicemail from Patrick Angelo, who vowed to kill Katko's family if he supports repealing net neutrality.
"Listen Mr. Katko, if you support net neutrality, I will support you," Angelo said, according to a complaint filed in federal court. "But if you don't support net neutrality, I will find you and your family and I will kill… you… all. Do you understand? I will literally find all… of… you and your progeny and just wipe you from the face of the earth."
Angelo was charged with threatening to kill a U.S. congressman and is facing up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
"I condemn in the strongest possible terms any attempts to intimidate government officials with violent threats, and in particular, efforts to target their families," said Chairman Pai. "I would also like to express my sympathy to Congressman Katko and his family and thank law enforcement officials for taking this matter seriously."
The net neutrality debate has become increasingly heated, with Chairman Pai reporting this week of threatening signs targeting his family. Protest signs of the repeal policy, which Pai formally released last week, turned up in his neighborhood naming and targeting his young children. "Dad murdered democracy," one sign read, and another featured Pai's children's names.
"This reminds me of another point, one that has been brought home to me in the past few days," Pai said Tuesday. "This debate in our culture and our public policy on this and other issues need quality information and not hysteria, because hysteria brings us to unpleasant and dangerous places."
"We can disagree on policy," Pai added. "That is the American way. We shouldn't demonize, especially when all of us share the same goal of free and open internet."
Pai's home has been the target of pro-net neutrality protests before. In May, alt-left groups involved in violent riots and protests in the past targeted Pai's neighborhood. Organizers connected to DisruptJ20 and Code Pink said they were "taking the fight to Pai's front door," leaving leaflets on the doors in Pai's neighborhood.
An online campaign organized by John Oliver opposing changes to the Obama rules, which for the first time in history classified internet service providers as utilities that are subjected to greater regulation, included numerous racist comments aimed at Pai, and death threats. Oliver had to appeal to his viewers to not leave racist comments.
Threats and violence have reached other Republicans and segments of the Trump administration, as well. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt has to have a 24-hour security detail given the amount of threats he has received.
Pruitt has received five times as many threats as his predecessor, including direct death threats such as, "I'm going to put a bullet in your brain."
A Tennessee woman tried to run her Republican congressman off the road for voting for the House bill to repeal Obamacare earlier this year. James T. Hodgkinson, a Bernie Sanders supporter, shot and severely wounded Rep. Steve Scalise and several others after targeting the Republican baseball practice this spring.