The Arkansas State Police launched and ended an investigation into comments made public over the weekend in which a Benton County Republican suggested gun violence as a method to persuade legislators to adopt his point of view.
Christopher Nogy, husband of Benton County GOP Committee Secretary Leigh Nogy, wrote an editorial titled “Scathing,” in response to his anger and disappointment at the passage of legislation known as the “private option.”
“We need to let those who will come in the future to represent us [know] that we are serious. The 2nd amendment means nothing unless those in power believe you would have no problem simply walking up and shooting them if they got too far out of line and stopped responding as representatives. It seems that we are unable to muster that belief in any of our representatives on a state or federal level, but we have to have something, something costly, something that they will fear that we will use if they step out of line.
“If we can’t shoot them, we have to at least be firm in our threat to take immediate action against them politically, socially, and civically if they screw up on something this big. Personally, I think a gun is quicker and more merciful, but hey, we can’t.”
Multiple news sources reported that Tim Summers, chairman of the Benton County GOP Committee, and local legislators were contacted by the Arkansas State Police, who investigated charges of possible terroristic threatening. Late Monday (April 22), the State Police issued a statement regarding the weekend events.
“Over the past three-days Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division were made aware of emails and social media activity containing threatening remarks directed at two members of the Arkansas General Assembly.
“After making contact with the individuals who may have written and transmitted the comments; the State Police has not developed any evidence that would substantiate a criminal investigation being opened.
“State Police have also been in contact with the state representatives who were the subjects of the comments and at this time there is no reason to believe their safety is presently compromised.”
While state and local Republican officials did not initially repudiate Nogy’s comments over the weekend, Summers issued a statement today saying he personally rejected the suggestion of violence and that the response to a vote of the legislature with gun violence was “simply abhorrent.”
On April 20, 2013, the April Newsletter for the Republican Party of Benton County was sent out by email to members of the County Committee and other persons on the Committee’s email list. Since that time, I have been contacted by several members of the County Committee about the content of an article included in that newsletter. The title of the article was “Scathing.” There have also been media reports about the article and it has been a topic in blog posts.
I have now read the article as well and I find much of it to be offensive. In response to the article, I think a few points need to be made:
1. While appearing in the newsletter for the Republican Party of Benton County, the writer of “Scathing” was not authorized to speak on behalf of the County Committee. The newsletter has changed over the years from merely being about providing information about upcoming meetings and events to having an element of substance about political views. While such a transition is not inappropriate, it does require greater editorial oversight which has not taken place. “Scathing” being published in the County Committee’s newsletter was the result of that failure to establish oversight. If such oversight had been in place, “Scathing” either would have been presented in a much different form, or not at all. I share in the responsibility for not fostering editorial controls and will work with the Executive Committee to put such controls in place going forward. Any such controls will be based on the sole objective of the Republican Party, which is to elect Republicans to political offices.
2. No one is authorized to speak for the Republican Party of Benton County except for the Chair of the County Committee and the Chair is constrained in so speaking to matters upon which there is consensus.
3. Much of “Scathing” focused on suggested violence as a potential response to disagreement with the outcome of political events, specifically the decision last week by the General Assembly to approve expansion of Medicaid in connection with what has become known as the “private option.” I want to be perfectly clear that I personally reject such a suggestion. The proper responses to disagreement with what our elected representatives do is to lobby them to do otherwise, to protest as allowed under the First Amendment, or to try to replace them at the next election. To suggest violence as a response to a vote of our elected legislators is simply abhorrent. Moreover, I can say that the many members of the County Committee with whom I have spoken, without exception, similarly reject the theme presented in “Scathing.”
Tim Summers, Chair
Republican Party of Benton County
The Republican Party of Arkansas released this statement earlier today:
“RPA Chairman Doyle Webb has spoken with Benton County Chairman Tim Summers about this inappropriate threat. Based on those conversations, we are confident that Chairman Summers and his executive committee are in the process of taking strong and swift action to ensure this type of incident never occurs again,” said GOP spokesman David Ray.
Late this afternoon, Leigh Nogy, resigned from the Benton County Republican Committee in the aftermath of the controversy.