Update: Bullet that hit Cantor’s office ‘fired randomly’
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor pointed to a shooting incident at his district office earlier this week as proof that Democrats aren’t the only ones being targeted with violence in the wake of the passage of health care reform. But a report from police in Richmond, Virginia, suggests the bullet that hit his office early Tuesday may have had nothing to do with the Republican congressman.
Richmond police say the bullet that hit a window of Republican Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor’s office had been randomly fired skyward.
In a news release, Richmond police said that the bullet had been fired into the air early Tuesday. It hit the front window of a building that houses Cantor’s campaign office as it fell to back earth at a sharp angle.
ORIGINAL STORY FOLLOWS BELOW
NY Dem receives white powder package with letter condemning health care reform
As death threats and violence aimed principally at Democratic lawmakers continued on Thursday in the wake of the passage of health care reform, some senior Republicans placed the blame squarely on Democrats.
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor on Thursday accused the Democratic Party leadership of “fanning the flames” of a recent spate of violent attacks against lawmakers’ offices and homes, and accused the heads of two Democratic organizations of using the incidents “for political gain.”
The Virginia Republican condemned the violent attacks and also said he had himself been targeted in the past week.
“Just recently I have been directly threatened,” Cantor said at a press conference. “A bullet was shot through the window of my campaign office in Richmond this week.”
Police in Richmond have confirmed that a bullet was fired early Tuesday morning into the first floor of an office building that houses numerous offices including one used by Cantor. Police say the building was unoccupied at the time.
Also on Thursday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said the Democrats’ “corrupt tactics” in passing health care reform were to blame for an “enraged” American public.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think the Democratic leadership has to take some real responsibility (for choosing) to use corrupt tactics that bought votes, that bullied people and as a result has enraged much of the American people,” Gingrich said, when asked if the GOP should condemn the violence. “And I think it would be nice for President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid to take some responsibility for what their actions have done to this country.Ã¢â‚¬Â
But Gingrich nonetheless condemned the recent acts of violence, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
For his part, Cantor accused Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine of “fanning the flames by suggesting that these incidents be used as a political weapon.”
“It is reckless to use these incidents as media vehicles for political gain,” he said. “Security threats against members of Congress is not a partisan issue, and they should never be treated that way. To use such threats as political weapons is reprehensible.”
In a response to Cantor’s comments, DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse was unyielding.
“Calling on Republican leaders who have contributed in part to this anger by wildly mischaracterizing the substance and motives of health reform to condemn these acts is entirely appropriate,” he said, as quoted at The Atlantic. He called on Cantor to join Democrats “in working to ratchet down the rhetoric.”
Cantor’s press conference may be a sign that some high-ranking Republicans are becoming genuinely worried that the recent spate of attacks against Democratic lawmakers may end up hurting the GOP’s image and polling numbers.
The past half-week — since the House’s passage of the health care bill — has seen at least 10 documented incidents of violence targeted at Democratic lawmakers, including a brick thrown through the window of the office of a New York Democrat, and a cut propane gas line at the home of the brother of a Democratic congressman.
Most recently, law enforcement officials say they are investigating a package with white powder sent to the office of Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY). The package reportedly contained a letter that “in part complained about the historic health care legislation passed by Congress this week,” WNBC reports.
In a statement, Weiner acknowledged that his office received a suspicious envelope and said his prime concern is the safety of his staff and others in the area.
The NYPD, the FBI and other emergency management officials are at the scene as a precaution, spokesmen for the agencies say. Weiner’s Kew Gardens office will be closed pending the completion of the investigation. As is routine, preliminary field testing is underway to determine whether the substance is in any way hazardous.
Cantor also told reporters that he had “received threatening e-mails,” and added he would not release them “because I believe such actions will only encourage more to be sent.”
The Washington Post‘s Ben Pershing reports that that comment appeared to be targeted at Rep. Stupak, who released audio of death threats left on his answering machine.