Dozens of Governors Receive Letter From Fringe Group ? The State Column
washingtonpost.comDozens of Governors Receive Letter From Fringe Group
April 3, 2010
The number of governors receiving letters from a anti-government fringe group now numbers around thirty. Governors from Arkansas, Oklahoma, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Kentucky, Hawaii, Montana , Missouri, Mississippi, Virginia, Texas, Nebraska and Alaska all found letters similar to those received by governors yesterday.
The letters have been sent by Guardians of the Free Republics, a group that says it wants to "restore America" by peacefully dismantling parts of government.
The FBI warning comes at a time of heightened attention to far-right extremist groups after the arrest of nine Christian militia members last weekend accused of plotting violence.
Montana governor Brian Schweitzer is among those who received a letter from an anti-government group demanding that he step down. Schweitzer's office confirmed Friday that he is one of more than 30 governors who received a letter this week from a group called Guardians of the free Republics. Schweitzer declined to comment further.
Missouri governor Jay Nixon’s spokesman Scott Holste said Friday that the letter was received earlier this week. The governor's office said the letter was received through the normal mail processing but declined to reveal what the letter said and referred further questions to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, which oversees the governor's security.
Virginia governor Bob Mcdonnell's office got the letter Wednesday from a group called Guardians of The Free Republics. It was turned over to the FBI and Virginia State Police
Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm spokeswoman Liz Boyd said federal authorities had alerted the governor that such a letter might be coming, and it arrived Monday or Tuesday. Boyd, who described the letter as "non-threatening," said it was opened by a staffer and immediately turned over to the Michigan State Police.
Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal's office confirmed the governor had received a letter from the Guardians of the free Republics and directed all further questions to the Louisiana State Police.
Security has been beefed up around Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear after State Police said he was among the governors who have received threatening letters from an anti-government group.
Hawaii governor Linda Lingle also received a letter. The Republican governor's spokesman confirmed Friday that the letter was sent to the governor's office, but he did not elaborate.
Alaska governor Sean Parnell‘s spokeswoman Sharon Leighow confirmed today that Parnell had received a letter in his Anchorage office. She said the letter arrived on Wednesday.
Midwestern governors also received letters. Iowa Governor Chet Culver, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds all found themselves the recpients of such letters.
The FBI has said it expects all 50 governors to eventually receive the group's letters.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/03/us/03threat.html30-plus governors told to quit in letters from Guardians of the Free Republics
By Anita Kumar
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 3, 2010
More than 30 governors, including Robert F. McDonnell (R) of Virginia, received letters from an anti-government group this week demanding that they resign within three days or face removal from office.
The letters from the group, Guardians of the Free Republics, do not threaten violence, according to officials in Richmond and Washington. No arrests have been made.
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) did not receive a letter, his spokesman, Shaun Adamec, said Friday.
The demands come after an outbreak of harassment and vandalism against members of Congress a couple of weeks ago. A Philadelphia man was charged Monday with threatening to kill U.S. House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) and his family.
The FBI and Department of Homeland Security warned police across the country that the letters could provoke violent behavior.
"The FBI and DHS are not aware of any immediate or credible threat,'' a Department of Homeland Security official said in a statement. "Although no specific information to indicate violence is intended as part of this plan, the bulletin was shared with federal, state, local and tribal partners to ensure they are equipped with the tools they need to better recognize behaviors and other indicators consistent with homeland security threats to prevent violence or criminal acts."
In at least two states, Utah and Nebraska, security was increased after the letters were received. In Nevada, screening machines were added to the main entrance of the state Capitol.
Guardians of the Free Republics aspires to restore the U.S. republic by peacefully dismantling parts of the government, according to its Web site.
The Restore America Plan is a bold achievable strategy for behind-the-scenes peaceful reconstruction of the de jure institutions of government without controversy, violence or civil war,'' the Web site says.
Bruce Hoffman, a professor at Georgetown University who has studied anti-government groups for more than two decades, said the delivery of the demands -- to so many governors -- is unprecedented.
"Given how emotional politics has become, it has to be taken seriously,'' he said. "On the one hand, it's absurd. On the other hand, given the time it took to contact 30 governors, it's not easily dismissed."
Mark Potok, an editor at the Southern Poverty Law Center who tracks extremists and hate speech, said the group stems from the "sovereign citizen" movement, including those who do not believe in paying taxes or abiding by zoning or other regulations. Some contend that a person has not committed a crime if there is no complaining witness.
In Virginia, the letter was received at the governor's office in Richmond on Wednesday. It was turned over to the Virginia State Police, which sent it to the Richmond FBI office.
The governor's office released a statement Friday morning that said the "the Governor and his family are secure."
Governors who received the letters include Tim Pawlenty (R) of Minnesota, Jennifer M. Granholm (D) of Michigan, Bobby Jindal (R) of Louisiana, Chet Culver (D) of Iowa, Brad Henry (D) of Oklahoma and Mike Rounds (R) of South Dakota. The FBI expects that all 50 governors will eventually receive such letters.
Staff writer Spencer Hsu and researcher Eddy Palanzo contributed to this report, which includes information from the Associated Press.
Governors Receive Threats From Extremist Group
By ROBERT PEAR
Published: April 2, 2010
WASHINGTON — Governors around the country said Friday that they had received letters from an extremist group warning that they might be forcibly removed from office if they did not step down within three days.
Officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security confirmed that they had sent out an intelligence note with information about potential threats to governors from a group calling itself the Guardians of the Free Republics.
The note was sent to state police officials in the last few days.
In a joint statement, the federal agencies said: “The F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security are not aware of any immediate or credible threats of violence as part of this group’s plan. Threat assessments are issued on a regular basis and out of an abundance of caution to inform our federal, state, local and tribal partners about possible threats to the homeland.”
It added that the agencies were “working with state and local authorities and continue to assess the matter.”
State officials said they were taking the threats seriously because they came at a time of increased attention to antigovernment groups.
In a federal indictment unsealed on Monday, nine members of a Christian militia group were accused of plotting an uprising against the federal government. The indictment said the group, based in Michigan, was planning to kill a local law enforcement officer and use explosive devices to attack police officers from around the country who would attend the funeral.
Federal officials said that at least 30 governors received the threatening letters this week. State officials in Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New York, Utah and Virginia said they were examining the letters. Officials in several states said security for governors had been increased.
On its Web site, gotfr.com, the Guardians of the Free Republics sets forth a plan to “restore America.” It describes the plan as “a bold achievable strategy for behind-the-scenes peaceful reconstruction of the de jure institutions of government without controversy, violence or civil war.”
The federal government told state police officials that the group could provoke violence by others because its members “advocate for their views through the use, support or facilitation of violence or illegal conduct.”
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