Saturday, June 23, 2007

Kotowski Death Threats, Pt. 2

Well, kids, the Kotowski story has taken a few twists and turns since last I blogged.

The gentleman who came forward after he was visited by the ISP provided some details to the NRA's "Cam & Company" radio show. Unfortunately, so far, I haven't been able to get transcripts, so I still don't know how to spell the gentleman's name. It sounds like "Tom Wardshaw" on the recording I heard. The replays are only live on the NRA News website for one day, but if I can get transcripts I'll try to get permission to repost them here in full. I did take some notes, and here's what I was able to get from the one interview I got to hear. These are paraphrased, but I'll post the notes unchanged in the comments. There's not much to them.

1. ISP detectives showed up on Tom's doorstep and asked to interview him. They asked questions about his mental health history, whether he took drugs for depression, that sort of thing. Basically, "Hello, sir. Are you the kind of violent wacko who would threaten to kill a guy for sponsoring a lousy law?"
"Why, no sir, I am not. But thanks a bunch for asking! Hugs!"

2. Tom stated:

”Uh, they didn’t say exactly who sent them, but they did tell me . . . . that I should stop faxing Senator Kotowski.” In other words, according to Tom, his FAXes were the issue as far as the ISP detectives were concerned, at least in Tom's case. Now, several bloggers, including Illinois Reason and Rich Miller at The Capitol Fax, have said that the ISRA is way off on this one because the FAXes were not the issue. Instead, they say, Kotowski was actually threatened by phone by other people. Well, that's just dandy as a reason to investigate Tom if and only if Kotowski or the ISP thought maybe Tom made the threatening phone calls or knew who did. But to hear Tom tell it, he wasn't asked about any of that. He was only asked about himself and warned about his FAXes. If I can ever find out this poor guy's name, maybe I can find out more about what happened from the horse's mouth. Whether the detectives liked or disliked their jobs that day, they seem to have had a clear understanding that their job was at least in part to warn Tom that his FAXes were bringing him the bad kind of attention. Of course, all this depends on the assumption that Tom is telling the truth.

3. Tom also states that his state Senator, Sen. Althoff, told him that the investigation "didn't amount to much" and that the investigators visited "over 500" other households. I'm not sure what to think of that; it doesn't strike me as reassuring. It also raises new questions--how many detectives does it take to make that many visits? How long does it take? Out of 500 people visited, did only one think to call the ISRA? What happened to to the others? Were they too intimidated to make a fuss, or were they all guilty, or is something else at work here? Let's hope it's not just apathy. I did get a gracious email from Sen. Althoff's office with her cell number, but I'll wait to call her until this afternoon. I hate to call on a saturday at all, but what are you gonna do?

4. Tom also claims that Danny Boy Kotowski called him at home to discuss his first few FAXes. He says Kotowski was polite and gave him the standard "Hey, let's just compromise until you don't have any guns anymore" speech. Pretty standard stuff among politicians, who often don't seem to get that this is not a game of Pokemon to see which party gets the most cards. For those of us who don't sit on $900 toilet seats, this is the real world, and the bills these people trade around like baseball cards have real-world consequences.

Rich Miller (linked above) is a valuable source of information, but as a long-time statehouse observer, he's got pretty much the same attitude. The gun nuts should just calm down, 'cause nobody's going to take away their deer-huntin' shotguns. It's his opinion and he's entitled to one, but it betrays a deep misunderstanding of what the issue actually is and why people are so passionate about it. He put Kotowski's press release out in public view on his Capitol Fax Blog, which is nice, but it quickly racked up 84 comments before he closed the comment feature down. I don't know what happens to his software when he has a very long thread, but I imagine it's nothing too good. Either that, or he got tired of reading the same arguments over and over 84 times.

The next post will have Kotowski's press release.

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