Congressman Steve Cohen says he tweeted and deleted a message to Cyndi Lauper this week intentionally to fool the press into promoting Memphis music, reports the Commercial Appeal. “There’s been a lot of discussion about my tweets — some questioning my ability to tweet,” Cohen, a Memphis Democrat, said from his desk in the Rayburn Building.
“The fact is I tweeted exactly what I wanted to tweet and I deleted exactly what I wanted to delete because, in this age, which I learned a couple of months ago … the best way to get a message out was to tweet and delete because the press will instantaneously assume the worst — something nefarious, something salacious — and jump on it.”
Cohen accidentally tweeted and deleted messages proclaiming his love for a 24-year-old Texas coed during the State of the Union in February and stories of the tweets went viral. Two days later, he revealed that she was a daughter he had never publicly identified.
The deleted tweets to Lauper were captured by Politiwoops, a program of the Sunlight Foundation, a good-government group that promotes transparency in government.
Cohen’s Twitter messages on Wednesday to Lauper mentioned her singing “Try a Little Tenderness” and said her performance at “In Performance at the White House: Memphis Soul” on Tuesday night was “hot.” The concert will be broadcast on PBS stations, including WKNO, on Tuesday night.
On Friday, Cohen explained: “It was a hot show, and Memphis music is hot. And Cyndi Lauper’s performance was hot. So was Justin Timberlake’s and Eddie Floyd’s ‘Knock on Wood’ and I wanted the world to know about it.”
Cohen said that if he put out a press release about the show, no one would see it.
“But I knew from my last episode, because of Politiwoops and the Sunshine (sic) Foundation having their area where they put deleted tweets, I knew the press would see it,” he said. “And I knew the press would also see the worst in it and publish it and, by doing so, they would publicize the Memphis music unlike anything I could have ever done.”
U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais’ first “Coffee with the Congressman” in Murfreesboro erupted into an argument over gun control Friday with constituents shouting at each other inside the venerable City Cafe, reports the Daily News Journal. Florence Tolbert of Murfreesboro and Rebekah Majors-Manley of Bell Buckle butted heads toward the end of DesJarlais’ visit over the rights of Americans to use high-capacity magazines and military-style assault weapons.
The heated discussion was spurred by requests from Murfreesboro resident Sara Mitchell, a veteran, who told the congressman she doesn’t believe civilians should have access to high-capacity magazines and that a better background check is needed for weapons purchases, in addition to improved mental health care.
“Right now, what I’m hearing in my 10 coffee shop visits across the 16 counties so far is you’re in the minority with that opinion right now,” said DesJarlais, who earlier contended that citizens need the right to bear arms to fend off a tyrannical government. “That we feel those rights are protected under the Second Amendment …”
“So does the Second Amendment guarantee me the right to have a nuclear weapon if I can afford it?” Mitchell asked.
“I don’t think that that’s the case. I don’t think it allows you to have a machine gun. There’s laws that are on the books now,” DesJarlais responded.
…As DesJarlais cut off the conversation, Tolbert continued to point out that laws should not be made based on emotion, and she and Majors-Manley had an up-close conversation.
LIVONIA, Mich. (AP) — Congressman Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan plans to donate his leftover campaign money to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.
The Republican from the Detroit suburb of Livonia, who dropped his bid for another term earlier this month in a shocking political collapse, made the announcement in a statement Tuesday. Federal records show McCotter had roughly $193,000 in his campaign account as of March 31.
The Michigan attorney general has launched an investigation into why more than 80 percent of the signatures on McCotter’s nominating petitions were invalid. The problem developed after the five-term congressman gave up his little-noticed campaign for president and entrusted his staff to prepare his re-election paperwork.
McCotter’s district runs from the middle-class communities west of Detroit to wealthy Birmingham in Oakland County.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Former U.S. Rep. John Tanner of Union City is one of 37 additional attorneys to join an expanding major law firm’s Nashville office.
Tanner, a Democrat who retired from Congress in 2011 after 22 years in office, will specialize in government relations for Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens & Cannada. Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has similar responsibilities for the firm in Jackson, Miss., where it is based.
Butler Snow announced the expansion on Thursday, bringing to more than 220 attorneys practicing in 12 offices nationwide.
The firm also has offices in Birmingham and Montgomery, Ala; Jackson, Bay St. Louis, Gulfport and Oxford, Miss.; Nashville and Memphis; Baton Rouge and New Orleans, La.; and Fort Washington and Bethlehem, Penn.
The expansion makes Butler Snow one of the Southeast’s largest firms.
A Lenoir City man was sentenced today to 14 months in federal prison for making threats against U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor and his family. From Jamie Satterfield’s report:. U.S. District Judge Tom Varlan approved at a hearing this morning a plea deal that netted Glendon Llewellyn Swift, 63, the 14-month prison term.
Swift’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Jonathan Moffatt, told Varlan that Swift was drunk and grieving the recent death of his wife when, last October, he phoned Cantor’s Virginia office.
Court records state Swift left two voicemails replete with “screaming and ranting of profanities.”
In one call, Swift said, “Let me tell you something, you Republican (expletive), you (expletive, expletive) Jew. I am going to destroy you. … How about if I rape your daughter? How about if I come into your house and kill your wife, Jew boy?”
Swift admitted the calls when the FBI showed up on his doorstep days later.
Swift has already served eight months awaiting today’s sentencing. Varlan ordered him to undergo treatment for alcohol abuse and mental health issues.
JAMESTOWN, Tenn. (AP) — Former Tennessee Congressman Lincoln Davis and his wife were turned away from their polling place thanks to a registration mix up.
Davis, who hasn’t missed an election since 1964, said when he was told he couldn’t vote, “I felt sick to my stomach.”
The situation was perplexing to Davis given his prominent status in the area. He not only served in Congress, but also represented the region in the state Senate and House of Representatives. He knows the poll workers and said the administrator of elections has a family farm that adjoins Davis’ own family farm.
“I see him out there feeding the cows,” Davis said.
Fentress County Elections Administrator Joey Williams said that in purging Davis and his wife elections officials acted on a notice received from the state that the couple had re-registered in neighboring Pickett County, where Davis once served as mayor in the county seat of Byrdstown.
The Administrator of Elections in Pickett County, Tim Clark, said the problem was on his end. Davis has voted in Pickett under the special category of property rights voter that allows him to vote in local elections only.
There are separate rolls for property rights voters and resident voters and Davis should have been only on the property rights voting rolls in Pickett County.
He lives in Fentress and should have been registered as a resident voter there for state and national elections, such as Tuesday’s presidential primary.
“It was a clerical error on our part,” Clark said. “We just messed up.”
The state Department of Elections on Wednesday issues an apology to Davis, but a spokesman also said Davis should have voted with a provisional ballot.
“I understand that he was very upset, and he had reason to be,” Blake Fontenay said, “but there was a remedy that he chose not to take.”
Davis was not offered a provisional ballot at the polling place, although after he went home and started making phone calls he was told he could go back in and vote with a provisional ballot.
Davis said he did not do that because he also was told he would have to re-register. Since registration has to take place in advance of voting, he worried that he would be accused of voter fraud and possibly have his voting privileges revoked.
Former Congressman Lincoln Davis says he was denied the right to vote Tuesday in his native Fentress County, where he has been casting ballots since 1964.
“If I had moved here from somewhere else recently, maybe I could understand it,” said Democrat Davis. “But a former congressman, a former state senator and a civic leader… and nobody even notified me I’d been taken off the rolls?”
“Now I know how the black man must have felt a hundred years ago,” he said in a telephone call to a reporter.
Davis said he arrived at his usual voting place near his home in the Pall Mall community about an hour before the polls closed and was told by election officials he was not registered in the county and could not vote. Davis said he contacted state Election Coordinator Mark Goins, who let the decision of local officials stand.
The former congressman, who was defeated by Republican Scott DesJarlais in a bid for reelection in 2010, said he was told that he was registered to vote in adjoining Pickett County and could not vote in two counties.
Actually, Davis said he is registered to vote only in Byrdstown city elections and can do so legally since he owns property in the city, which is located in Fentress County and which he once served as mayor.
Davis said Tennessee has made it easier to vote in the past, being the final state approving women’s suffrage in 1920 and being a pioneer state in authorizing early voting.
“Why is it now that we’re making it harder for people to vote?” he said.
Blake Fontenay, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office and Goins, said the rejection of Davis as a voter was “regrettable and something we certainly did not want to see happen.”
“The bottom line on this one is we’re going to have to investigate to see what happened here,” Fontenay said. “How and why he got purged in Fentress County we don’t know yet.”
Fontenay said Goins advised Davis to cast a provisional ballot, but apparently the polls had closed before the former congressman could return to do so.
— UPDATE: Goins says he called Davis Tuesday evening after the former congressman had already talked at some length to Fentress County Election Administrator Joey Williams. Goins said both men urged Davis to return quickly to his precinct to cast a provisional ballot.
“He did not seem interested in voting provisional,” said Goins. “I kept saying, ‘Get down there and vote’. We can handle this.”
Goins said he was not certain of the time he talked with Davis, though it may have been about 6:20 p.m., which could have left time for Davis to get back to the polls.
A provisional vote allows a person to cast his or her ballot with a decision made later on whether it will be counted.
Goins said Davis appears on records as a registered voter for general elections in Pickett County, not just as a Byrdstown city voter, and was purged from Fentress County rolls. He said officials would look into details of the situation Wednesday.
“It’s not a situation where we were denying him the right to vote,” Goins said. “We’ve just got to figure this out.”
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee man pleaded guilty Tuesday to making threats in profanity-laced voice mails left at U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s office.
Glendon Swift, 64, of Lenoir City pleaded guilty to a charge of threatening a family member of a federal official. In return, prosecutors said they would recommend a 13-month sentence. Swift could have faced a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Sentencing is scheduled for April 4. Swift’s attorney, federal public defender Jonathan Moffatt, declined comment.
An FBI affidavit shows the 64-year-old Swift left two messages at the Republican leader’s suburban Richmond office on Oct. 27, threatening to “destroy” the congressman, making derogatory references to Cantor being Jewish and making threats against family members. The calls were traced to Swift’s cellphone.
In one of the calls, Swift said, “How about if I rape your daughter? How about that, if I come into your house and kill your wife?”
Swift admitted to the FBI that he made the calls to the six-term Republican, saying he “got drunk the other night and started cussing people out.” He said he did not remember threatening the congressman’s family, however.
From the News Sentinel:
A Lenoir City man has struck a deal to plead guilty to telephoning threats to a Virginia congressman’s family.
According to court documents, Glendon Swift, 62, has admitted that he left two anonymous telephone messages at the office of U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va) in October, and said he was drunk when he did so. Swift was ordered detained Friday by U.S. Magistrate Judge Clifford Shirley pending a Dec. 20 hearing at which he is expected to plead guilty to one count of threatening a federal official’s family.
The plea deal calls for a 13-month prison term. But U.S. District Judge Tom Varlan must approve it at an April 4 sentencing.
When FBI agents from the Richmond, Va., field office first questioned Swift about the calls, he readily admitted he had made them, court documents state.
Swift “immediately responded that he was aware of why the agents were there and stated that he ‘got drunk the other night and started cussing people out,’ ” a court document states.
Swift, after consulting with an attorney, has signed a plea agreement. He has also agreed to have the case handled in Knoxville instead of Virginia.
The calls were made on Swift’s cellphone. They were “laden with the screaming and ranting of profanities,” and made derogatory references to the fact that Cantor is Jewish.
In one of the calls, Swift says: “How about if I rape your daughter? How about that, if I come into your house and kill your wife.”
Available court documents do not indicate Swift’s motive in making the call.
News release from U.S. Attorney’s office in Virginia (h/t Politico):
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Glendon Swift, 62, of Lenoir City, Tenn., was arrested late yesterday for allegedly making threats against the family of Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va.
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Michael F. A. Morehart, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Field Office, made the announcement.
“Threatening to harm the family of a public official is a very serious charge, and we are grateful to the FBI and their law enforcement partners for their quick action in this case,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride.
Swift was charged by criminal complaint of threatening to assault or murder a member of the immediate family of a United States official. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. He made an initial appearance before the Honorable C. Clifford Shirley, Jr., United States Magistrate Judge, in Knoxville, Tenn., this afternoon.
According to court documents, an unknown male left two voicemail messages with Rep. Cantor’s Glen Allen, Va., office the evening of Oct. 27, 2011. The screaming, profanity-laden messages allegedly stated that the caller was going to destroy Rep. Cantor, rape his daughter and kill his wife. A Congressional staff member retrieved the messages, alerted the U.S. Capitol Police, which sought the assistance of the FBI to identify and locate the individual who made the calls.
Swift was identified as the individual who subscribed to the phone number used to make the call. He was arrested without incident on Nov. 2, 2011 by the FBI in Knoxville and the Lenoir City Police Department after having been interviewed by law enforcement, and allegedly admitted to making the threatening phone calls to Rep. Cantor’s office.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Richmond and Knoxville Field Offices, the U.S. Capitol Police, and the Lenoir City Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Jamie L. Mickelson is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.
Criminal complaints are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.justice.gov/usao/vae. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on https://pcl.uscourts.gov.