KIRKSVILLE, Mo. — The 15 Republican House members who voted “no” on House Bill 253 yesterday already are receiving feedback, both positive and negative. And the negative is really negative.
The members are being called the “flimsy 15” by organizations like Club for Growth that tweeted out the following message Wednesday night requesting help to “oust” the legislators:
— MO Club for Growth (@mocfg) September 12, 2013
But then there are pro-HB 253 organizations like Grow Missouri, which says while Club for Growth is a member organization, their comments are “a completely independent effort.”
“From the coalition’s standpoint, we want to be strictly there to help,” Grow Missouri treasurer Aaron Willard says. “If we’re going to help move the state forward, we have to be focused on helping. And, as is with any coalition, you have different members representing different interests. We’re very broad and diverse, and that message is Club for Growth’s prerogative.”
Radio personality and conservative activist Dana Loesch has tweeted similar comments to that of Club for Growth the past few days, saying there “is a consequence” for “these worthless elect [that] have reduced the GOP brand to nothing but a laughingstock in [Missouri].”
She goes on to request they be primaried in the coming election, adding that she will help in the process to get them out of office.
Fourteen of the 15 representatives are eligible for reelection, with one exception: Rep. Mike Thomson, R-Maryville, who is set to term limit out after 2014.
Thomson says the feedback he has received since the vote has been primarily very positive, with three or four exceptions.
All 15 representatives received an email from a man named Brian Barclay, who doesn’t identify he is from Missouri in the email, and whose email address is traced back to Reagan.com, a website that allows you to create email addresses under the premise that emails won’t be “scanned” or “categorized” like the site says Google and Yahoo do. The email was forwarded by a representative and confirmed by two others, it states:
Dear RINO Traitor,
Burn your GOP card and come out of the closet you filthy, rotten, lying, Progressive bastard. We the TEA Party, spit in your pig eye, and will roast you in the next election.
Barlcay denied an additional comment about the email.
Thomson says he has taken several controversial votes during his seven years in office, and has never received an email like that or the three or four others that he has the past few days.
“I’ve gotten probably 100 emails today and I’ve gotten three or four that are like that, and the rest are saying ‘thank you for your common sense,’ ‘thank you for your courage,’ ‘thank you for not doing what we maybe don’t want to follow through on,'” Thomson says, adding that he knows Barclay is not from his district so he “isn’t going to worry too much” about the message.
Thomson says he has always advocated and supporting a tax cut, but didn’t think this bill was the appropriate vehicle to do so. Next year, he says he is “anxious to get back to work” on a tax cut bill that doesn’t have some of the problems he says HB 253 contained.
“I’ve taken some controversial votes, but I’ve never seen anything like what is coming out of the St. Louis area right now,” Thomson says about the commentary he has received. “You always have people that disagree, but I’ve never had anyone say anything so disrespectful and inappropriate as some of the things that I have received today and yesterday. But, it’s part of the job.”
Rep. Nate Walker, R-Kirksville, is another recipient of the email and someone who has been vocally active against the income tax bill for the past few months. After Barclay’s email, Walker responded, carbon copying his response to the rest of the majority caucus. In a separate email, he also forwarded the information to House Democrats.
“Thanks for your input and vivid description of a “RINO Traitor,”” he says in the response. “I appreciate your emotion; however, please do NOT work yourself into such an emotional panic…it may NOT be healthy for you. I hope that you can calm down and enjoy a perfect and blessed day.”
Walker says this isn’t the first time he has received pushback like this.
“I respect his First Amendment rights, however it saddens me deeply when many in my Republican Party accept and tolerate such behavior toward one of their own members,” he tells The Missouri Times in a written statement. “I have experienced this more than once. Being a Reagan Republican, it concerns me that the GOP has often embraced this type of behavior.”
House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, says he has no direct comment on the email.
“A supermajority of Missourians voted for a supermajority of representatives to send us here to do what we said we would do, which is limit tax burden, limit spending and promote growth, because government spending isn’t the answer to prosperity,” he says.
Ashley Jost is no longer with The Missouri Times. She worked as the executive editor for several months, and a reporter before that.