Threats against Stupak call him 'scumbag demon, dirtbag, bastard'

The passage of health care legislation this week has led to a series of threats against lawmakers who voted for it. Numerous Democrats, such as Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) have accused Republican legislators of "stoking the flames."

But the speaker of the House dismissed those allegations Thursday.

"I don't subscribe that these acts sprang from any words of my colleagues," said Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in a press conference, The Hill reported.

"It's inappropriate for members of Congress to cheer when these sentiments were expressed in the gallery," she continued. While reprimanding the Republicans who encouraged anti-reform protesters over the weekend, she noted, "That's different from saying they provoked it."

The Hill noted that "Pelosi echoed Democratic leaders' call for leaders in both parties to disavow threats of violence against members of Congress for their vote on health care. But she said Republicans weren't to blame for the threats, which have prompted Capitol Police briefings for Democratic lawmakers."

Threats against Stupak call him 'scumbag demon, dirtbag, bastard'

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) has been a prominent target of the protesters. The staunch anti-abortion lawmaker withheld his support for the measure until just hours before the vote, after striking a deal with the White House to place stronger restrictions on abortion funding.

Stupak told Capitol Hill police he received about 50 threats from anti-reform activists since voting for the bill. He released numerous voicemails to his office where opponents of the bill called him a "bastard," a "baby-killer," a "scumbag demon," and a "dirtbag," among other epithets.

Rachel Maddow played some of the audio on her MSNBC show Wednesday. "We have bleeped the worst parts of it, but the language used in these phone explicit," she said.

"You turncoat son of a bitch," said one caller. "I hope you bleed out your ass, get cancer and die."

"You will rue the day you did this, Mr. Stupak," another told him. "You are a disgusting man and I hope you're haunted the rest of your living days, because you won't be a congressman much longer. You are a dirtbag and the country loathes you, and God, bastard that you are."

"We think you're a devil and you will go to your grave with this on your conscience," said a third caller. "I hope you die."

Democrat demands Boehner 'take responsibility' for encouraging violence

Another target, Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-OH), accused the House Republican leader of inflaming the situation and egging on the protesters with his provocative rhetoric.

"Congressman Boehner, as a leader in the House, should step and take responsibility," Driehaus told Rachel Maddow during an appearance on MSNBC Wednesday evening. "You know, these words matter, and he should take responsibility for those words."

In an interview with the National Review days before the vote, Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) issued a veiled warning that Driehaus's life may be at stake if he backs the measure.

"Take [Rep.] Steve Driehaus, for example," Boehner said. "He may be a dead man. He can’t go home to the west side of Cincinnati. The Catholics will run him out of town."

"It's not really what he meant or how I take it," Driehaus noted on The Rachel Maddow Show, pointing out that he doesn't believe Boehner intended to encourage violence against him. "It's how some crazy person in Cincinnati, or crazy person in Indiana or Kentucky, might take it and might act upon it."

"I take this very seriously," Driehaus continued, noting that the threats have reached such a troubling level that his wife is not "letting the kids answer the phone anymore" and "not letting the kids walk down the street by themselves."

Last week, the Washington-based Committee to Rethink Reform released a controversial ad in a local paper targeting Driehaus on health care. Yahoo News reported that "[t]he ad prominently featured the congressman’s young daughters, in violation of the unwritten law that forbids dragging lawmakers' family members – most especially their underage children – into the fray."

"We've had some threatening calls to the office," Driehaus told the Cincinnati news organization WCPO last Wednesday. "My wife won't let the kids answer the phone at home. Not that, you know, we've got a lot of thank you calls far more than we've got threats."

WCPO also reported that "the publication 'The Whistleblower' published Driehaus' home address with a link that included directions."

Boehner said in a statement this week: "I know many Americans are angry over this health care bill, and that Washington Democrats just aren't listening. But, as I've said, violence and threats are unacceptable. That's not the American way. We need to take that anger and channel it into positive change."

Driehaus accused Boehner of "politiciz[ing]" the situation instead of properly denouncing the threats.

"If John Boehner...tells people to tone it down, if he apologizes for the statements he's made and some others have made, I think that would go a long, long way," he said. "He needs to own this problem. He's part of it."

This video is from MSNBC's Countdown, broadcast March 24, 2010.

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Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), who held his support for the bill until just hours before the vote over concerns about abortion funding, reported about 50 threats against him to Capitol Hill law enforcement.

He received a number of phone calls and voicemails packed with invectives

Rep. Tom Perriello