I mentioned last night that I’d received in response to a Freedom of Information Act request to the State Police some 256 pages of data detailing the multiple times Sen. Jason Rapert had asked State Police to investigate remarks he perceived to be threatening on Facebook and other media.
A State Police spokesman said yesterday that deep investigations had turned up no “credible” threats of imminent harm to the senator or his family. The documents indicated the senator was told on some occasions that some remarks — though undoubtedly inflammatory or profane, were protected speech. My reporting arose in the context of another example of Rapert’s belief that protected speech, when critical, constitutes a threat to him.
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Though he continues to dodge questions (unconvincingly) about the precise source, his interview on KATV yesterday made clear that he’d posted a threatening Tweet in response to a man who’d asked him a question at a Lowe’s in Conway about politics that he didn’t like. Rapert took him to be a supporter of same-sex marriage and that was enough for Rapert to feel threatened and talk of how dangerous it is to “harass” someone who is armed and ready to use his concealed weapon. The veiled threat of use of his weapon has prompted several to complain to law authorities about Rapert’s misuse of his concealed carry permit.
But this interested me. The State Police documents show immense staff time by state and local law officers to respond to Rapert over a period of two years. They subpoenaed phone records. They brought in a behavioral analyst. An Iowa state police officer was dispatched to interview the source of one note. Extensive Internet research was done. The records contain no indication of something Rapert has claimed, that the State Police had advised him to send his family out of state in response to threats.
The records are larded with pages of technical data. I hope to boil them down in time to some of the more pertinent complaints, such as when Rapert reported that a correspondent had said he hoped Rapert would have his ass kicked by the Constitution. Good metaphor. Not much of a threat. Rapert seemed particularly upset that people might found out where he lives and does business, though his residency must be filed in public documents to vote and run for office and his place of business is readily available by any number of means, including a handy Google map on the website of his securities business.
But meanwhile, I had a question for the State Police: Would they devote this amount of manpower (including a period of increased patrols of Rapert’s house) to someone who is NOT a state senator?
My response from State Police spokesman Bill Sadler:
We would make a note of a threat or perceived threat from anyone, but first of all we’d advise that person to be cautious in inflaming a situation by making another post that might cause that person to come back at you with possibly a more credible threat.
But we will work closely with local law enforcement and yes we’d work with local law enforcement on any threat until we could rule out any credible threat of harm.
Legal commentary from a defense lawyer:
Maybe the Conway Sheriff of Chief or the PD will decide that Rapert is a danger to the community based on his public threats to use his concealed handgun on anybody who dares “petition government for redress of grievances.”
Wishful thinking, the lawyer admits.