State and National Government
A Botetourt County man faces federal charges for allegedly making a series of on-line threats against Congressman Bob Goodlatte. The U.S. Attorney’s office says 38-year-old Christopher McGowan used Twitter to make threats that included “I am not making a joke — I will kill him” and “I am buying [a gun] intended for you in three days.” McGowan is jailed pending a bond hearing next Wednesday.
From the US Attorney’s Office: Roanoke, VIRGINIA – United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen announced today the arrest of a Roanoke man accused of using social media to communicate threats against U.S. Congressman Bob Goodlatte. Congressman Goodlatte represents the Sixth Congressional District of Virginia in the United States House of Representatives and is the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. The United States Attorney’s Office charged Christopher Michael McGowan, 38, in a criminal complaint with one count of making a threatening communication through interstate commerce. “Federal law criminalizes threatening communications made through the internet or a telephone, and these types of threats are not protected by the First Amendment,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated. “As this case indicates, our office will act swiftly to address threats of gun violence.”
According to the criminal complaint and affidavit, on or about December 17, 2017, McGowan allegedly tweeted to United States Congressman Bob Goodlatte a series of messages threatening the Congressman. “I will do this in full belief I am defending the constitution of the United States. I am not making a joke. I will kill him. Should you believe my doing so would be illegal please arrest me so we can have this discussion in court BEFORE I actually do it. Thank you.”
On December 18, 2017, officers with the Botetourt County Sheriff’s Office visited McGowan at his home and interviewed him. During the interview, McGowan admitted to sending the tweets the previous day, but stated he did not own firearms and did not intend on hurting Congressman Goodlatte or anyone else. In a subsequent series of tweets sent from McGowan to Congressman Goodlatte on April 1, 2018, however, McGowan stated the following:
“I’m serious, @BobGoodlatte6 …you keep f**king with our constitution and challenging Mueller and the last you see will be my patriot ass behind a gun you should have long ago have prevented me owning pulling a trigger to your head (SIC). Want me arrested>? GO head.”
“#1 threatened my congressman with violence #2 stated I would kill people. #3: pretty much declared I would commit a plethora of anti-social behavior, publicly. Whom would like to bet I can purchase a gun three days from now and NOT be locked up in jail? #proudtobeanAmerican”
“…Corruption happens on so many levels and in so many ways…but YOU have truly taken it to an extreme. History will hate you even more than I do. You better get on those gun laws. I am buying one intended for you in 3 days. Can you legally stop me?”
McGowan was arrested this morning and had his initial appearance in U.S. District Court this afternoon. He was remanded to the custody of the United States Marshals pending a bond hearing next Wednesday. The investigation of the case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Roanoke City Police Department, the Botetourt County Sheriff’s Office, and the United States Capitol Police. Assistant United States Attorney Jake Jacobsen will prosecute the case for the United States.
A criminal complaint is only a charge and not evidence of guilt. The defendant is entitled to a fair trial with the burden on the government to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
A key Virginia Republican has signaled support for Medicaid expansion, a move that gives pro-expansion lawmakers a majority in both chambers of the General Assembly. Virginia Beach Sen. Frank Wagner said in a statement Friday that he favors expanding Medicaid, enacting a new tax on hospitals, and using part of the extra money raised to give tax credits to lower income Virginians. Wagner has previously voted against Medicaid expansion and his new support could end a deadlock over the state budget. Lawmakers have been unable to pass a spending plan because of Republican infighting over whether it should include Medicaid expansion. But it’s not immediately clear if Wagner’s proposal will find broad support. The only other Republican senator who supports expansion, Sen. Emmett Hanger, opposes the proposed hospital tax.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Gov. Ralph Northam has signed an executive order directing Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality to review its operations and evaluate changes in federal environmental regulations since President Donald Trump took office. Northam’s order, announced Wednesday, requires the department to provide a report on its findings by April 30, 2019. The governor says the order will enhance protection of Virginia’s natural resources and public health and ensure the department has all it needs to do its job. A press release announcing the order included statements of support from several environmental groups, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and the American Lung Association. Some critics of the department say it’s too cozy with industry, and opponents of two proposed natural gas pipelines contend DEQ hasn’t been thorough or transparent in its review process.
NEW YORK (AP) _ Seventeen states, the District of Columbia and six cities sued the U.S. government Tuesday, saying a plan to add a citizenship demand to the census questionnaire is unconstitutional. The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Manhattan federal court, and Virginia is one of states joining it. The lawsuit said adding the citizenship demand to the 2020 census questionnaire was an arbitrary decision that will “fatally undermine the accuracy of the population count.” A government spokesman did not immediately comment on the filing. Several states already have joined a separate lawsuit filed by California’s attorney general last week that seeks to block the citizenship question from being added to the census questionnaire.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Former vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine is jumping back into campaign mode to defend his seat in the U.S. Senate.
The Virginia Democrat is kicking off a series of statewide rallies and fundraisers Monday.
Kaine told reporters in Richmond his campaign would focus on improving the economy and making a more inclusive Virginia.
A former mayor and governor, Kaine was undefeated in electoral politics until he was Hillary Clinton’s running mate in 2016. Kaine said he learned from the loss that Democrats need a “crisp” economic message.
Kaine was first elected to the Senate in 2012. Three Republicans are vying to take on Kaine this year: Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors; Nick Freitas, a state delegate; and E.W. Jackson, a minister.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Virginia’s director of the Department of Environmental Quality will be staying on the job. A spokesman for Gov. Ralph Northam said Monday that the governor has reappointed Director David Paylor. Paylor has led the department since 2006 under both Democratic and Republican governors. The department has around 1,000 workers and oversees the state’s biggest polluters. It conducts tasks including permitting, monitoring, and inspections and enforcement. Paylor has drawn criticism in the past for accepting a trip to the Masters golf tournament in Georgia paid for by Dominion Energy, which DEQ regulates. The department itself has recently come under fire from opponents of two controversial natural gas pipelines, who contend DEQ has not been thorough or transparent in its review process. Northam said in a statement that Paylor has served “admirably.”
President Donald Trump on Sunday declared “NO MORE” to a deal to help “Dreamer” immigrants and threatened to pull out of a free trade agreement with Mexico unless it does more to stop people from crossing into the U.S. He claimed they’re coming to take advantage of protections granted certain immigrants. “NO MORE DACA DEAL!” Trump tweeted one hour after he began the day by wishing his followers a “HAPPY EASTER!”
He said Mexico must “stop the big drug and people flows, or I will stop their cash cow, NAFTA. NEED WALL!” The U.S., Canada and Mexico are participating in tense negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement at Trump’s insistence. Trump says NAFTA is bad for the U.S.
Trump, when addressing reporters briefly before entering the church, again blamed Democrats for failing to protect the “Dreamers.” “They had a great chance. The Democrats blew it. They had a great, great chance, but we’ll have to take a look because Mexico has got to help us at the border. They flow right through Mexico. They send them into the United States. It can’t happen that way anymore.”
The president also complained on Twitter that border patrol agents can’t do their jobs properly because of “ridiculous liberal (Democrat) laws” that allow people caught for being in the country illegally to be released while they await a hearing before a federal immigration judge.