DENVER (CBS4)– Rep. Kyle Mullica knew when he got into politics that it would be vicious at times. But death threats against him and his family, he said, were not part of the deal.
It’s why the Democrat representing Adams County introduced a bill making threats against an elected official a felony.
Mullica said the bill is in response to threatening emails he received last year after he carried a bill that would have made vaccine exemptions more difficult. He shared some of the emails with CBS4.
One of the emails was from a dad who accused Mullica of purposefully wanting his son dead. In another email, a woman threatened “death by hanging.” And, an anonymous person wrote, “The world would be better if your home burned down with you and your family in it.”
“I don’t think we have any place for threats,” said Mullica.
His bill would put elected officials on par with judges and prosecutors, making threats against them a class four felony.
“There is uniqueness to being an elected official, to being a state representative, because the policy we’re passing is affecting millions of people,” said Mullica.
But he has now pulled the bill after his own party’s leadership said elected officials don’t deserve special treatment.
“I have so much respect for Representative Mullica,” says Democratic House Majority Leader Alex Garnett.
Garnett once wore a bullet-proof vest on the floor because of a death threat. But he opposes the bill.
“I’ve been threatened where I’ve had stalkers who have shown up to my house, where there have been interactions on social media that have targeted my family. But… I signed up to be in this job and to be in front of the public to make these tough decisions. We do live in sort of a hyper-partisan world now, but all of that was something that I knew going into the job.”
“I disagree that harassment today or threats of violence is necessarily part of the job,” said Mullica. “We want to have those difficult conversations and passionate debates, but we have to draw the line, too, Shaun, that you can’t threaten people to try to get your way.”
Mullica said he pulled the bill because he wants more buy in and he plans to bring it back.
Critics claim the bill wouldn’t deter threats and that prosecutors can already charge under the harassment statute.
But the Colorado District Attorneys’ Council says the bill isn’t about deterrence. It’s about treating the crime with the seriousness it deserves. Harassment is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum of six months in jail. A class four felony carries up to six years in jail.