Branson Native Jolie Justus Among Missouri Lawmaker Threatened

JEFFERSON CITY — Orange stickers with an image of rifle cross hairs were found yesterday on the office nameplates of several Democratic state senators, prompting an investigation by Missouri Capitol Police, Senate Administrator Jim Howerton said. “We are taking all the precautions we can,” Howerton said. One similar sticker was found on the nameplate outside the door of state Rep. Scott Dieckhaus, R-Washington. He was the only Republican and the only House member who found one of the stickers. The stickers were near the doors of all four Democratic women in the Senate — Jolie Justus and Kiki Curls, both of Kansas City, and Maria Chapelle-Nadal and Robin Wright-Jones, both of St. Louis. A sticker also was found near the door of Sen. Victor Callahan, D-Kansas City and the Democrats’ floor leader. “If anyone thinks this was a prank, it is not a prank,” Justus said after discussing the discovery of the stickers on the Senate floor. “You don’t joke about someone’s personal safety.” There was no explanation of the significance of the stickers, and as of this morning, no leads had been reported to Senate leaders. Lawmakers yesterday were debating a Republican-sponsored bill to block implementation of the federal health care overhaul. Democrats were leading the opposition. “It is unsettling, especially since we have no protection, no metal detectors in this building,” Curls said. Her staff found a small sticker, removed it and later found a much larger one in its place, she said. “We don’t have any explanation,” Justus said on the Senate floor. “Many of us when we came back to our office this afternoon had gun targets on our nameplates. A few of the senators removed them, only to have them replaced by larger stickers later.” Justus said Capitol Police and the Missouri State Highway Patrol had been contacted to conduct the investigation. House Chief Clerk Adam Crumbliss said Capitol Police removed the nameplate from the fourth-floor office where a sticker was found on the House side. He did not name the lawmaker, but Dieckhaus’ office was the only one missing a nameplate. House leadership had been told, but rank-and-file members had not, Crumbliss said. “Frankly, we hope it is nothing more than” a prank. Worry about targeting female politicians is heightened because of the recent anniversary of the shooting of Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona. Giffords has been in the news lately because of that anniversary and her announcement that she would step down after attending yesterday’s State of the Union speech in Washington. Cross hairs over pictures of Giffords in a political context have been cited as helping to incite the attack that left her critically wounded and killed six and wounded 12 others. “I don’t think it is funny,” Justus said of yesterday’s incident. Sen. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, said he thought the stickers were “disgusting. It is unacceptable in this body and this building. I hope whoever did this is caught so we can properly attribute this to him.” There will be additional security in the Capitol while the investigation continues, Howerton said. “Until we know more or it goes away, we will take precautions,” he said.