WASHINGTON — A recent vote for President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill has developed into a controversial, life-threatening exercise for Rep. Andrew Garbarino, a New York Republican who broke with his party to support the legislation.
Staff at Garbarino’s offices have been flooded with threats targeting the Congress member following the vote, including "one specific death threat and numerous other instances of harassment both over the phone and in person at our offices," spokesperson Kristen Cianci told BuzzFeed News. Local authorities have also spoken to the Garbarino about increased patrols near his district office.
Nassau Police confirmed that Kenneth Gasper was arrested and charged with aggravated harassment for a death threat he made to Garbarino, according to Detective Lt. Richard LeBrun.
“It’s amazing people want to kill me over paving roads and clean water,” Garbarino told BuzzFeed News. “The misinformation out there about this bill is so bad that I’m getting death threats.”
Garbarino is one of 13 House Republicans whose office phone numbers were publicized by their Republican colleague Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene after they helped pass the $1.2 trillion bill. Since the vote, those members and their staff have faced an increasing amount of harassment.
The targeted harassment of Republicans who voted for the bipartisan bill is the latest example of the tension between Republican members who break away from the party and their base. Former president Donald Trump has also singled out those members, saying soon after the infrastructure bill passed last week that Republicans who voted for it should be "ashamed of themselves" and were not real Republicans.
Garbarino faced a barrage of negative comments on a recent Facebook post explaining why he voted for the bill. Even though he began his post by condemning a separate bill that contains a majority of Democrats’ social spending priorities, most of the nearly 500 responses were unforgiving, with users vowing to “remember next year” and “vote Garbarino Out!”
“I seriously hope you aren’t entertaining the possibility of running again as a Republican,” one Facebook user posted on Garbarino’s profile. “Try running as a Dem/Socialist, you’ll have better luck GarbaRINO.”
Garbarino said he hopes that during next week’s party conference, his colleagues, like Greene, are reminded that their actions are affecting other members.
“I don’t think my colleagues want to get me killed, but they should stop with the rhetoric,” Garbarino said.