Is one of "the crazy ones" behind a threatening email sent to House Republicans?

Capitol Hill mystery! Someone in the GOP doesn't want his colleagues to raise the debt limit

Published February 12, 2014 9:28PM (EST)

             (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)
(AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

Blind item! Which member of Congress is (probably) emailing other members crazy threats? BuzzFeed's John Stanton reports that a number of House Republicans received emails -- sent to their internal congressional email addresses, addresses that are extremely difficult to find for non-members -- in which an anonymous person threatened to politically ruin members who vote to raise the debt limit. The author first sent the cryptic threats to Speaker John Boehner and Rep. James Lankford, and then forwarded the emails to other members.

The email to Boehner asks him to stop "lying to the American people in re. the debt limit," arguing (with Forbes and Wall Street Journal opinion page assists) that not raising the debt limit wouldn't lead to default and widespread economic calamity. The email to Lankford is much more amusingly threatening, saying "see you soon" and then attaching another email from someone named "exposethefrauds" containing a spreadsheet of Republicans who've voted to raise the debt limit in the past.

Who could've sent these strange emails?

“It’s got to be another member. Probably one of the crazy ones,” said a Republican who had seen the email, which was sent from an anonymous email address,

Yes, Republicans also think of certain other Republicans as "the crazy ones." No, those Republicans do not generally have policy beliefs that differ significantly from those of the crazy ones. One issue that does divide them, though, is the debt ceiling. "Sane" Republicans exploit the regular mandatory debt ceiling vote by falsely claiming that raising it incurs additional debt, while understanding that raising the limit is necessary. "The crazy ones," though, genuinely believe that not raising the debt limit wouldn't end up causing an economic catastrophe, or that somehow causing that catastrophe is necessary in order to finally shrink our bloated federal government.

What makes "the crazy ones" crazy, in fact, is that they genuinely believe the cynical lies -- about government debt, global warming, taxes, healthcare, immigration, Democratic Party fiscal policies and so on -- that the non-crazy ones have been feeding the rubes for years.

Here, then, is another consequence of encouraging a bit of paranoid conspiratorial delusion and fiscal magical thinking among your base for decades: The crazy letters are coming from inside the House. Various people on the inside now actually believe these formerly convenient fictions! If the emails didn't come directly from a member, they were most likely sent from someone who got the list of internal email addresses from a member.

So who was it? Right now I'm guessing Steve Stockman but never count out Steve King.

By Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at and follow him on Twitter @pareene

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Debt Ceiling Republican Party U.s. House Of Representatives