John Boehner’s former bartender once made plans to slip poison into the House speaker’s drink, or shoot him and drive away, authorities say.
Among the reasons driving the alleged assassination plot: Michael Hoyt heard voices that told him Boehner was evil. He thought the Ohio Republican was the devil. He blamed Boehner for the Ebola outbreak. And he thought the speaker was mean to him.
Asked about the threats Wednesday, Boehner turned away from television cameras and said: “Can’t make this stuff up.”
The 44-year-old Butler County, Ohio, man was indicted last week on charges that he planned to murder Boehner – a plan that he made after being fired from the Wetherington Golf & Country Club in West Chester.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) said Wednesday that Boehner hadn’t mentioned Hoyt’s threats to his colleagues.
McCarthy told reporters that “in society where we live, it’s a sad situation that – I think this individual needs a great deal of help, but the speaker also needs to be protected.”
The story of Hoyt’s arrest was first reported by WCPO in Cincinnati. According to a complaint filed in federal court in Cincinnati and obtained by CNN, police learned the details of his alleged plans after Hoyt called officers on Oct. 29.
“Hoyt told the officer he was Jesus Christ and he was going to kill Boehner because Boehner was mean to him at the country club and because Boehner is responsible for Ebola,” United States Capitol Police Special Agent Christopher Desrosiers reported. “Hoyt advised he had a loaded Beretta .380 automatic and he was going to shoot Boehner and take off.”
Police said Hoyt also emailed Boehner’s wife, Debbie, twice.
“If I had any intention of hurting Mr. Boehner, I could have poisoned his wine at Wetherington many, many times,” police said he wrote in one of his emails.
Police said Hoyt told them he heard voices that told him Boehner is evil, and that he wanted to expose the Ohio Republican as the devil. He blamed Boehner for the Ebola outbreak and believed the speaker was among a group of country club patrons who complained about his service and cost him his job.
He said he hoped sharing his threats with law enforcement officers would prompt Boehner to apologize, and force him to discuss the issue of Ebola.
Police seized guns and ammunition from the man’s home. They said he kept a notebook that contained the words “John Boehner” and “Ebola,” and that Hoyt had been treated for a psychotic episode about two years ago. Police placed Hoyt on a 72-hour psychiatric ward hold.
Boehner’s spokesman, Michael Steel, issued a brief statement acknowledging the report Tuesday evening.
“Speaker Boehner is aware of this situation, and sincerely thanks the FBI, the Capitol Police and local authorities in Ohio for their efforts,” he said.
A source familiar with the situation said Boehner and some of his key staff members have known about Hoyt since November, but didn’t know the timing of the indictment.
Boehner and his wife also had a “level of awareness” of Hoyt, since the country club is near their home and he had worked there for several years, the source said.
CNN’s Dana Bash and Ted Barrett contributed to this report