Maine Secretary of State Targeted in Swatting Call at Her Home

The Associated Press
By The Associated Press
December 31, 2023Politics

A fake emergency call to police resulted in officers responding Friday night to the home of Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows just a day after she disqualified former President Donald Trump from the state’s presidential primary ballot under the Constitution’s insurrection clause.

She is the latest politician to become a target of swatting, which involves making a phone call to emergency services with the intent that a large first responder presence, including SWAT teams, will show up at a residence.

Ms. Bellows was not home when the swatting call was made, and responding officers found nothing suspicious.

Suspects in swatting cases are being arrested and charged as states contemplate stronger penalties.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) was the target of a swatting attempt at her Georgia residence on Christmas morning, the congresswoman and local police said.

A man in New York called the Georgia suicide hotline claiming he had shot his girlfriend at Ms. Greene’s home and was going to kill himself. Police said investigators were working to identify the caller and build a criminal case.

Another New York man was sentenced to three months in prison in August for making threatening phone calls to Ms. Greene’s office in Washington.

Emergency Services

While the Maine Department of Public Safety did not share a suspected motive for the swatting attempt against Ms. Bellows, she had no doubt it stemmed from her decision to disqualify President Trump from the ballot.

A call was made to emergency services from an unknown man saying he had broken into a house in Manchester, according to the Maine public safety department.

The address the man gave was Ms. Bellows’s home. Ms. Bellows and her husband were away for the holiday weekend. Maine State Police responded to what the public safety department said ultimately turned out to be a swatting call.

Police conducted an exterior sweep of the house and then checked inside at Ms. Bellows’s request. Nothing suspicious was found, and police continue to investigate.

“The Maine State Police is working with our law enforcement partners to provide special attention to any and all appropriate locations,” the public safety department statement said.

Ms. Bellows said such intimidation factors won’t work. “Here’s what I’m not doing differently. I’m doing my job to uphold the Constitution, the rule of law,” she said.

In addition to Ms. Bellows and Ms. Greene, other high-profile politicians who have been swatting targets include Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, and Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.

Ms. Bellows said she, her family, and her office workers have been threatened since her decision to bar President Trump from the ballot. At least one Republican lawmaker in Maine wants to pursue impeachment against her.

The Trump campaign said it would appeal Ms. Bellows’s decision to Maine’s state courts, and Ms. Bellows suspended her ruling until that court system rules on the case.

The Colorado Supreme Court earlier this month disqualified President Trump from that state’s ballot, a decision that also was stayed until the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether he would be barred under the insurrection clause, a Civil War-era provision that prohibits those who “engaged in insurrection” from holding office.

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