Kevin Patrick Smith

Montana Man Gets 2.5 Years For Threatening To Rip The Head Of Off Democratic Senator

A Montana man has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for threatening to kill Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, according to an Associated Press report.
Kevin Patrick Smith (Missoula County Sheriff’s Office) by Arjun Singh, DCNF.

A Montana man has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for threatening to kill Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, according to an Associated Press report.

Kevin Patrick Smith of Kalispell, Montana, a town in the northwest of the state, had called Tester’s office on Jan. 30 and threatened to “rip your head off” and challenged Tester to contact the FBI about him, according to the AP.

Smith received a two-and-a-half-year sentence as part of a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s office in the state, the report said.

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“There is nothing I want more than to have you stand toe to toe with me. You stand toe to toe with me. I rip your head off. You die. You stand in a situation where it is physical between you and me. You die,” Smith told Tester over the phone call, according to 8 KPAX, a local news organization. He also said “I would love to fucking kill you. I would love to see your FBI at my door. I would love to see something in the news.”

Senior U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen, an Obama appointee, dismissed the second count of the indictment against Smith as part of the agreement, which would have entailed a longer sentence. Smith pleaded guilty to one count of threatening to murder a U.S. senator, for which the maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine, according to the Associated Press.

Smith had left the threatening voicemails, numbering 60 in total, with Tester’s constituency office in Kalispell. On Feb. 1, he was reportedly contacted by the FBI and told to stop threatening Tester, and was later arrested on Feb. 22, 8 KPAX reported, where they recovered four shotguns, five rifles, eight pistols, a homemade silencer and 1,186 rounds of ammunition.

Following his sentence, Smith will be subject to three years of supervised release, 8 KPAX reported. He was represented by a federal public defender, the AP reported.

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Threats against high-ranking politicians have been frequent over the history of the United States, though Smith’s sentence is lower than what others have received. In 2019, a former congressional staff member, Jackson Cosko, was sentenced to four years in prison for publishing the personal addresses of five senators on Wikipedia, a practice known as “doxxing.”

After he assumed office, former President Donald Trump was the subject of tens of thousands of assassination threats, according to a report by Mashable. One of Trump’s appointees to the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, has received frequent threats to his safety after a contentious confirmation process, where he was accused of sexual assault in high school by Christine Blasey Ford.

One of Tester’s colleagues, Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, had her staff similarly harassed after she voted to confirm Kavanaugh’s nomination. A caller to her offices expressed hope that her staff is “raped and impregnated,” according to Newsweek.

Tester, a Democrat in a heavily Republican state, is currently running for reelection in 2024 for a fourth term. He is being challenged by Republican candidate Tim Sheehy, while Republican Rep. Matt Rosendale of Montana, whom Tester defeated in 2018, has suggested that he may run against him.

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