Rep. Mo Brooks told a local radio show that one factor in the record number of retirements of GOP members may be fears of assassination.
Brooks was speaking on “The Dale Jackson Show” about the first Republican practice the Congressional Baseball Game after last year’s shooting that left Majority Whip Steve Scalise severely injured.
“We have multiple rings of security, plainclothes, uniform, Capitol Police, other police,” he said. “There was a medical vehicle nearby just in case there was a copycat.”
But Brooks said while there were multiple factors that contributed to a slew of Republicans leaving the House, he suggested fears of violence was a major one.
“One of the things that’s concerning me is the assassination risk may become a factor,” he said.
Brooks referred to the fact many members of the Republican baseball team are retiring, including Sen. Jeff Flake and Reps. Ryan Costello, Pat Meehan, Dennis Ross and Tom Rooney.
“You have to wonder with that kind of disproportionate retirement number whether what happened in June played a factor,” he said.
Brooks also pointed to the fact that in the past month, a man pled guilty to threatening Arizona Rep. Martha McSally and three different people have been arrested for threatening Reps. Scott Taylor and Tom Garrett of Virginia and Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey.
“Notice a trend here?” he said. “I have a congressman who is a friend here who has a three-year old daughter whose daughter was threatened with murder.”
He also said the “socialist Bernie Sanders wing of society” was pushing for a revolution that would lead to Maoist level of violence.
“There are a growing number of leftists who believe the way to resolve this is not at the ballot box but through threats and sometimes through violence and assassinations,” he said.
When pressed about his suggestion, Brooks said it was a “possible” factor.
“I don’t think any of these people who are retiring would say that, but just looking at the numbers,” he said. “That’s out of whack.”
A record 43 Republican members of the House are retiring, resigning, or leaving Congress to run for a higher office. They come from all over the country and don’t seem to be following a pattern.
Some are retiring due to scandals or ethics violations. Others are anti-Trump in a pro-Trump caucus. Still others are simply tired of the partisan wrangling and have had enough.
But fears of being assassinated? Ten years ago, Brooks would have been seen as a kook for suggesting that fear of being killed was a factor in retiring from Congress. Today, he may be a prophet.
Obviously, this is not a flight of fancy. But whether it is playing a role in the decision of so many members to leave Congress is improbable. Security has been tightened since the shooting last year, and even with the threats, it’s still just a remote possibility.