March 29th, 2010
06:37 PM ET

Man accused of threatening to kill top Republican

A man was arrested for allegedly threatening to kill Rep. Eric Cantor, right, the number two Republican in the House of Representatives.

[Updated at 6:37 p.m.] Read the full CNN.com story

[Updated at 12:42 p.m.] Rep. Eric Cantor's office issued a statement regarding the arrest of a man who threatened to kill the Congressman:

“Over the weekend, Congressman Cantor was notified by law enforcement that a threat was made against his life. Law enforcement officials informed Congressman Cantor that the threat was determined as credible and they were responding accordingly," Cantor's Press Secretary Brad Dayspring said in a statement. "The Congressman was later notified that an arrest was made and a suspect was in custody."

[Posted at 12:26 p.m.] A 33-year-old Pennsylvania man has been arrested for threatening to kill Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor, the number two Republican in the House of Representatives, the Justice Department announced Monday.

Norman Leboon, a resident of Philadelphia, was charged in a two-count complaint with threatening to kill Cantor and his family. Leboon made the threat in a YouTube Internet video sent to Google earlier this month, according to a Justice Department news release.

Neither Cantor nor his family were harmed as a result of Leboon's threat, the release noted.

"The Department of Justice takes threats against government officials seriously, especially threats to kill or injure others," U.S. Attorney Michael Levy said. "Whether the reason for the threat is personal or political, threats are not protected by the First Amendment and are crimes."

If convicted, Leboon would face a sentence of up to 15 years in prison and a $500,000 fine, according to the release.

Cantor was at the center of a dispute last week between Democrats and Republicans over what many observers argue was overly heated partisan rhetoric at the end of the health care reform debate. Democrats blamed Republicans for helping to incite angry conservatives; Republicans accused Democrats of needlessly hyping threats for political gain.

Cantor told reporters Thursday morning that a bullet had been shot through a window at his campaign office in Richmond, Virginia. Richmond police, however, concluded Friday that the incident was the result of "random gunfire."

Cantor also said last week that he had received several threatening messages.

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Filed under: Congress • Justice • Politics
soundoff (90 Responses)
  1. newporter

    I have no sympathy for such an unsympathetic opportunist such as Cantor either but the arrest was the right thing to do. Too many crackpots in politics already; we don't need em out on the street as well.

    March 29, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mark L.

    As a liberal Democrat that backs the Democratic agenda 100%, I will be the first to admit, there is absolutely NO EXCUSES whatsoever, for these type of violent threats against the lives of any Democratic or Republican lawmakers. While there is a deep divide that separates Democratic & Republican lawmakers' ideas & agenda items, violent threats are 110% inexcusable. That's why in this Great Nation of ours, there's such a thing called, "Freedom of Speech". You can air your grievances out via blogs, message boards, peaceful demonstrations, etc.; but, to threaten the life of a lawmaker is absolutely ludicrous !!

    March 29, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jeff

    Connie,
    the comments here a so transparent.. a divided country for sure... the only comments required are those that confirm we are a country that believe in our laws, and that they apply to everyone regardless of race, gender or political party. Who cares why someone wants to kill someone. As if there could be a sufficient reason.

    March 29, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. D

    1.5 hours might be called fact-checking, something that I fear Fox has entirely dispensed with.

    March 29, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bob Pacific Grove, Ca

    So if they are arresting a person for making death threats against Congressman Cantor, it would seem to me that there should have been plenty of people already arrested for threatening to kill President Obama, correct?

    March 29, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Linda in Seattle

    Doesn't matter "why" he threatened Cantor with death. No one should get away with that. More wackos need to understand that they better chill and stop the hate. That's both sides of the arguments. Palin better learn it too, before she goes too far with her gunsight blogs.

    March 29, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Matthew

    If I use the tea party's arguments, then clearly Cantor was asking for this kind of violence! He was setting people up! As Glenn Beck said, What does Cantor have to do to get shot?

    But really I think violence against either party is wrong. And I am amazed that republicans aren't willing to come out and stand up for civility like the democrats have.

    March 29, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Wes

    Well this is great news and maybe now all the threats and 8Brick Throwing* will stop. If the accusation proves to be legit this guy should do his time in federal prison. Threats do not accomplish anything and if the voters are angry, come Nov, in a democracy we vote them out. However, the don't see much changing and don't see a major republican victory in Nov. Healthcare will not be the demise of the democratic party especially when those against it will be for it soon enough. Some are going to be saying, " I was against it before I was for it".

    March 29, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MisterWilson

    Still nothing about this over at Fox News. They must still be trying to figure out how to spin this.

    March 29, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jim

    Hhhmmm...if this was a Democrat poitician the headline would have mentioned something about tthe party affiliation and how it is hate. If it happens to a Republican there is no such treatment of the affair. No double-standard here at cnn....no...

    March 29, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Roque

    So, are the Republicans the only members of congress being threatened?

    Let's see names of the Democrat members recieving threats also.

    March 29, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mark

    You know that if the tables were turned (meaning a threat against a Democrat) the republicans would be saying it was a plant and a staged event intended to garner attention or to make political points. Every time there has been a story about teabaggers making threats the republicans have claimed that if it happened at all it must have been done by some liberal "plant" in the crowd.

    March 29, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Kerry M. Berger

    Anyone who threatens a lawmaker - Democrat or Republican - should be arrested and the full weight of the law be placed against him/her towards prosecution. In an open and free society with a democratic republic, our lawmakers, as ignorant as some may be, theoretically represent the constituents they were elected from. They are doing the country's work by enacting laws that work for the benefit of the whole society. We cannot have opposition towards members of Congress and the Senate other than through a peaceful and legal means - elections or recall petitions. Threats of violence are not part of the American value system since the revolution nearly 3 centuries ago.

    March 29, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jim

    Babs,

    I'm with you! I wonder why the press that was all around those Democrats (not to mention all the phones and other recording devices) don't produce this "hate speech." Maybe it happened, more likely it was made up and that is probably the reason why there are no arrests in that situation.

    March 29, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Laverne

    Okay, now go get the nut jobs who cut the gas line of the brother of the Senator in Virginia. He also posted something threatning stuff on-line, Oh I forgot the Senator from Virginia is a democrat.

    March 29, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
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