LITTLE ROCK — No charges will be filed over comments made in a Benton County Republican Party newsletter and on Twitter about shooting public officials, an Arkansas State Police spokesman said Monday.
The comments included a statement by Chris Nogy of Lowell, a member of the Benton County Republican Committee, in a Benton County Republican Party newsletter that was emailed to committee members and others on its email list.
In the statement, titled “Scathing,” Nogy expressed outrage over the Legislature’s passage, with bipartisan support, of health care expansion under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act
“Part of me feels that this betrayal deserves a quick implementation of my 2nd Amendment rights to remove a threat domestic,” Nogy said in the newsletter.
He also said his anger was mainly directed at Republican legislators who voted for expansion, whom he called “turncoats.”
“I don’t feel the same way about the Democrats as bullet backstops as I do about the Republicans who joined them,” he wrote in the newsletter.
A bullet backstop is an object behind a shooting target that stops bullets.
Nogy also wrote that “we need to let those who will come in the future to represent us (know) that we are serious.”
“The 2nd Amendment means nothing unless those in power believe you would have no problem simply walking up and shooting them if they got too far out of line and stopped responding as representatives,” he said in the newsletter. “It seems that we are unable to muster that belief in any of our representatives on a state or federal level, but we have to have something, something costly, something that they will fear that we will use if they step out of line.
“If we can’t shoot them, we have to at least be firm in our threat to take immediate action against them politically, socially, and civically (sic) if they screw up on something this big. Personally, I think a gun is quicker and more merciful, but hey, we can’t.”
Also over the weekend, a person using the Twitter name “seanonymous” tweeted that House Speaker Davy Carter, R-Cabot, “is a very persuasive gun advocate. I’d like to buy a gun and shoot him with it.”
State Police spokesman Bill Sadler said Monday that investigators began making initial inquires about the incidents on Saturday and concluded on Monday that there was no evidence warranting criminal charges.
“If you looked at them in the context of the way they were written, did somebody intend to shoot somebody? It’s the position of the state police that no one intended to do that,” he said.
Former state Rep. Tim Summers, chairman of the Benton County Republican Committee, said in a statement Monday that he found much of Nogy’s statement in the newsletter to be “offensive” and said it appeared in the newsletter because of a lack of editorial oversight.
“I share in the responsibility for not fostering editorial controls and will work with the Executive Committee to put such controls in place going forward,” he said.
Republican Party of Arkansas spokesman David Ray said in a statement Monday regarding Nogy’s comments, “RPA Chairman Doyle Webb has spoken with Benton County Chairman Tim Summers about this inappropriate threat. Based on those conversations, we are confident that Chairman Summers and his executive committee are in the process of taking strong and swift action to ensure this type of incident never occurs again.”
Nogy’s wife, Leigh Nogy, secretary of the Benton County Republican Committee, told the Arkansas News Bureau on Monday that she took full responsibility for including her husband’s comments in the newsletter.
“It was a bad choice of words,” she said, admitting that when read out of context they “made him look like some kind of crazy person.”
Chris Nogy said his comments were intended to make the point that voters need some kind of “credible negative reinforcement” to dissuade their representatives from actions that are not representative of the public will.
“I do not advocate violence. I did not advocate violence,” he said.
Nogy said that “if I had it to do again, I would have found another method to communicate what I feel is still an important point to the committee.”
Asked about his and his wife’s future with the committee, Nogy said the county committee’s executive committee was expected to discuss that issue at a meeting Monday night.
The incidents followed on the heels of an uproar Friday over a tweet by state Rep. Nate Bell, R-Mena, regarding the manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombing suspects. Bell tweeted, “I wonder how many Boston liberals spent the night cowering in their homes wishing they had an AR-15 with a high capacity magazine?”
The tweet drew rebukes from around the world and was criticized by Carter and other legislative leaders. Bell later wrote on Facebook and Twitter that the tweet was ill-timed and that his thoughts and prayers were with the people of Boston.
Carter and Senate President Pro Tem, R-Russellville, both said Monday that the controversial comments were unacceptable.
“There were a lot of lines crossed the last four or five days,” Carter said. “Maybe there’ll be some lessons learned.”
“As somebody that is on the receiving end of a lot of it, anybody who thinks it has any impact on how we do anything, they are very wrong,” Lamoureux said. “So if your goal is to influence public officials’ behavior, I promise, threatening them with bodily harm is not one of the ways to get them to listen to you.”
— Reporter Rob Moritz contributed to this report.