Advance Notice: Briefs

‘I hope you die,’ caller tells Upton in voicemail left after infrastructure vote

By: - November 9, 2021 3:44 pm

U.S.. Rep. Fred Upton | Andrew Roth

U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) received a threatening, profanity-laced voicemail after voting in favor of a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill Friday, the congressman said Monday on CNN.

“I hope you die. I hope everybody in your f—— family dies,” the caller said in the voicemail, which Upton played during his interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

The caller also called Upton a “f—— piece of s— traitor.”

The voicemail came after U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) called the 13 Republican House members who voted for the infrastructure bill “traitors” and “American job and energy killers” in a tweet. In another tweet, Greene posted the phone numbers of the 13 Republicans who voted in favor of the legislation.

The infrastructure legislation, which President Joe Biden is expected to soon sign, will send about $10 billion to Michigan for road and bridge repairs, water infrastructure, expanding internet access, and more.

The infrastructure bill “is common sense legislation that will support critical infrastructure projects in MI without raising taxes or increasing the debt,” Upton wrote on Twitter following Friday’s vote. “It will help rebuild our highways and harbors, replace lead water pipes in Benton Harbor and across the country, expand broadband to underserved communities, strengthen our energy grid against Russian and Chinese cyber attacks, and create jobs across [southwest] Michigan.

“I regret that this good, bipartisan bill became a political football in recent weeks,” Upton continued. “Our country can’t afford this partisan dysfunction any longer.”

I’ll tell you it’s a terrible way — we have seen civility really downslide here.

– U.S. Rep. Fred Upton

The Advance reached out to Upton’s office for further comment about the threatening voicemail on Tuesday afternoon; they did not immediately respond.

Upton said his office has fielded a series of disturbing phone calls in addition to the voicemail he played on CNN.

“I’ll tell you it’s a terrible way —  we have seen civility really downslide here,” Upton told Cooper. “We have seen civility really downslide here. I’m concerned about my staff. They are taking these calls.”

Upton has faced intense backlash and violent rhetoric from Republican colleagues at both the federal and state level in recent years, particularly after he broke with his party and voted to impeach former President Donald Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. 

Michigan Republican Party chairman Ron Weiser, for example, said “other than voting [them] out,’’ casually referenced assassinating Upton and U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Grand Rapids), who also voted to impeach Trump. During a North Oakland Republican Club meeting in March, an audience member asked Weiser what should be “done” about Upton and Meijer after the impeachment vote.

After Upton denounced the QAnon conspiracy theory and voted to remove Greene from her spot on the House Education Committee following her statements supporting QAnon and calling school shooting false flag operations, he was censured by the Cass County GOP.

“Tonight, the Cass County GOP censured me for voting to remove Marjorie Taylor Greene from the education committee, and in their resolution they stated that ‘her comments have not been out of line with anyone else’s comment.’ Really?” Upton tweeted on Feb. 23. 

“She taunted a Parkland school shooting survivor, argued that California wildfires were started by a Jewish space laser, accused Democratic politicians of running a pedophile ring out of a pizza parlor, and questioned whether 9/11 really happened,” Upton wrote on Twitter.

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Anna Gustafson
Anna Gustafson

Anna Gustafson is the assistant editor at Michigan Advance, where her beats include economic justice, health care and immigration. Previously the founder of the Muskegon Times and the editor at Rapid Growth Media in Grand Rapids, Anna has worked as an editor and reporter for news outlets across the country. She began her journalism career reporting on state politics in Wisconsin and has gone on to cover government, racial justice and immigration reform in New York City, education in Connecticut, the environment in Wyoming, and more. Previously, Anna lived in Argentina and Morocco, and, when she’s not working, she’s often trying to perfect the empanada and couscous recipes she fell in love with in these countries. You’ll likely also find her working on her century-old home in downtown Lansing, writing that ever-elusive novel and hiking throughout Michigan.