WASHINGTON – On the day House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband was attacked by an intruder in the couple’s home, a right-wing news site ran a story criticizing U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar’s hiring of private security in response to what the lawmaker has characterized as death threats.
Omar, D-5th District, was the only person who was not a member of the Republican and Democratic House and Senate leadership to be hustled into a special secure room when a mob of Trump supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Capitol Police at that time believed Omar’s life was in danger.
Omar has also received special Capitol Police protection at other times due to concerns about threats against the progressive lawmaker who has become a lightning rod for the right. Omar has also hired private security when she’s in her Twin Cities-based district.
The Daily Caller, a right-wing news and opinion website Fox News host Tucker Carlson founded but sold in 2020, criticized Omar for spending from her campaign fund what Federal Elections Commission records show is more than $27,000 for security in August and September.
The story, which ran on Friday, also said Omar opposed funding of the police. Omar backed a failed voter referendum that would have turned the Minneapolis Police Department into a new public safety department but has said she favors reform and restructuring, not necessarily defunding, of law enforcement.
Rep. Tom Emmer, R-6th District, retweeted the Daily Caller story Friday with this: “Security for me, but not for thee. That’s the Democrat way.”
Meanwhile, Omar said Friday that the number of threats she has received has increased since summer.
“Sadly, death threats and even assassination plots are a regular part of my life as a public servant,” Omar said. “These increase when prominent rightwing figures publicly target me, especially during campaign season. Since the summer I have seen an increase in threats.”
She also said the threats don’t only “create a dangerous environment for me, but also for my family, my staff, and people who share my identities.”
Responding to a break-in of Pelosi’s home in San Francisco early Friday, police found Paul Pelosi, 82, and the alleged assailant, David DePape, struggling over a hammer. DePape, 42, then struck Pelosi in the head and body before being subdued and arrested, San Francisco Police Chief William Scott said.
DePape had posted conspiracy theories on a social media platform about COVID vaccines, the 2020 election and the Jan. 6 attack and had shouted, “Where is Nancy?” when he broke into the Pelosi residence. The speaker was not at home, but in Washington D.C. Paul Pelosi was hospitalized but expected to recover.
“The violent assault on Speaker Pelosi’s husband Paul is a chilling reminder of the risks associated simply with having a loved one in public service,” Omar said. “My thoughts are with Paul Pelosi, the Speaker, and their whole family during this painful time.”
Threats against members of Congress are on the rise. Earlier this year, U.S. Capitol Police reported in excess of 9,600 threats against lawmakers in 2021, more than double the number recorded in 2017. And between Jan. 1 and March of this year, the Capitol Police had opened another 1,820 new cases, some of which included “concerning statements and threats.”
Responding to the increase in threats, the House Sergeant at Arms announced in August that his office would pay each member up to $10,000 to provide enhanced security to their homes, through cameras, lighting, motion detectors, special locks and other devices.