Threats Lead Steube to Consider Using Campaign Funds to Defend Florida Home
WASHINGTON — Rep. W. Gregory Steube, R-Fla., has asked the Federal Election Commission for an advisory opinion on whether members of Congress can use campaign funds to protect their homes, up to and including paying for a locking security gate, after he received a series of death and other threats.
Steube, who was elected to represent Florida’s 17th Congressional District in 2019, has a long history of public service, having served two years in the Florida Senate and six years in the Florida House.
Prior to his government service, he served in the U.S. Army with distinction as an Airborne Division infantry officer and a Judge Advocate General’s Corps officer from 2004 to 2008, and as the chief of detainee operations for Multinational Division North in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2006 and 2007.
During his tenure in Congress, Steube has typically been aligned with the Trump right, being one of 126 Republican House members who signed an amicus brief supporting Texas v. Pennsylvania, a lawsuit contesting the results of the 2020 presidential election, and among those who argued the “deep state” at the Food and Drug Administration prevented the use of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19.
In June 2021, Steube was also among 21 House Republicans who voted against a resolution to give the Congressional Gold Medal to police officers who defended members and staff during the Jan. 6, 2021, siege on the U.S. Capitol.
While Steube is on the bleeding edge of bare-knuckled politics in Washington, he evidently has been the subject of repeated threats of violence back home in Florida, where he lives with his wife and son and multiple rescue dogs.
The threats began the year Steube was elected.
In September 2019, a local law enforcement agency in Florida contacted the U.S. Capitol Police about a conversation between two inmates then in a county jail. One of those inmates had been engaged in stalking the representative and his family, and he told his fellow inmate that he planned to secure firearms before visiting the member.
The inmate was later questioned about the statements, but according to documentation provided by the FEC, he denied any threats of harm and said he wanted to put the situation behind him and reunite with his family.
Sometime later, Steube reported seeing the former inmate at a local restaurant. Though the fact they were both there turned out to be coincidental, the former inmate was told the incident could have been construed as a violation of a court order.
Ultimately the individual was arrested for violating the terms of his parole and returned to custody.
From 2020 onward, Steube has repeatedly been the subject of ever more threatening calls from men and women.
One vowed to follow the congressman around “and get a group of people and go get him and make sure he is no longer going to be in Congress.”
Another described him as a “Trump sucking M****F******” and he should be “taken out by any means available … because you never know when the bullet hits the bone.”
Yet another caller left a voicemail that said, “I hope you die in 24 hours.”
The Steubes have also had two break-ins at their home, one when they were present and another when they were not present, and the representative says it took law enforcement in both cases 20 minutes to respond because of the distance he lives from the nearest city.
Steube also includes a letter from Sarasota County Sheriff Kurt Hoffman in which the lawman says the representative needs, at minimum, a steel security gate.
The FEC has previously issued opinions allowing the use of campaign funds for personal security, and in response to a recent request from the House Sergeant at Arms, the agency specifically said members may use campaign funds to pay for security systems including cameras, sensors, and locks “in and around” a member’s residence.
In a later opinion the FEC clarified that wiring and lighting needed to maintain a properly functioning security system could also be installed using campaign funds.
Steube is requesting an opinion on whether he can install a steel gate that serves no aesthetic purpose, but merely serves as a lockable barrier to the entrance of his residence.
“The installation of a security gate, to protect the entrance of a property that cannot be fully secured by other means, is necessary as part of a comprehensive security system,” Steube writes. “Therefore, I ask the FEC to issue an advisory … on whether members of Congress may use excess campaign funds to protect themselves and their residence.”
Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue
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