The most jarring and unexpected moment of the night was when the moderator opened up the phone lines to callers:
BOB FROM MAINE: I’m from Maine and our Tea Party will be meeting up next week. What is the best way that we can get our senator to listen to us?
ANOTHER CALLER: Shoot her. [laughter]
MODERATOR: Yes, we will shoot her with…(inaudible) and phone calls.
After the anonymous statement was made, no one on the call voiced their opposition. Instead, the threat was met with laughter and “oohs.” (At the time of the incident, Sessions’ communications director had apparently left the call.) Calling for the assassination of a senator is a federal crime punishable by five years of jail and may require a Secret Service investigation.
Collins was the sole Republican to co-sponsor Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)’s withdrawn amendment that would allow bi-national, same sex couples to petition for immigrant visas for their significant others.
Despite the “joking” nature of the caller, this is not the first time that Tea Partiers have made explicit threats toward government officials. A Tea Partier once threatened a state senator for supporting a bill he believed would lead to government seizure of land, and famed Tea Partier Glenn Beck also called for the use of Special Ops to incite a revolution.