Editor’s Note: Kelley Paul is the wife of Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. The opinions expressed in this commentary are hers.
An open letter to Senator Cory Booker:
It’s nine o’clock at night, and as I watch out the window, a sheriff’s car slowly drives past my home. I am grateful that they have offered to do extra patrols, as someone just posted our home address, and Rand’s cell number, on the internet – all part of a broader effort to intimidate and threaten Republican members of Congress and their families. I now keep a loaded gun by my bed. Our security systems have had to be expanded. I have never felt this way in my life.
In the last 18 months, our family has experienced violence and threats of violence at a horrifying level. I will never forget the morning of the shooting at the congressional baseball practice, the pure relief and gratitude that flooded me when I realized that Rand was okay.
He was not okay last November, when a violent and unstable man attacked him from behind while he was working in our yard, breaking six ribs and leaving him with lung damage and multiple bouts of pneumonia. Kentucky’s secretary of state, Alison Lundergan Grimes, recently joked about it in a speech. MSNBC commentator Kasie Hunt laughingly said on air that Rand’s assault was one of her “favorite stories.” Cher, Bette Midler, and others have lauded his attacker on Twitter. I hope that these women never have to watch someone they love struggle to move or even breathe for months on end.
Earlier this week, Rand was besieged in the airport by activists “getting up in his face,” as you, Senator Booker, encouraged them to do a few months ago. Preventing someone from moving forward, thrusting your middle finger in their face, screaming vitriol – is this the way to express concern or enact change? Or does it only incite unstable people to violence, making them feel that assaulting a person is somehow politically justifiable?
Senator Booker, Rand has worked with you to co-sponsor criminal justice reform bills. He respects you, and so do I. I would call on you to retract your statement. I would call on you to condemn violence, the leaking of elected officials’ personal addresses (our address was leaked from a Senate directory given only to senators), and the intimidation and threats that are being hurled at them and their families.