Congressman Luis Gutierrez is expected to attend an immigration rally in support of Mary Rose Wilcox's campaign for a seat in Arizona's Seventh Congressional District.
And Gutiérrez's staff turned to the U.S. Capitol Police for advice after being made aware of a letter written by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio citing potential gun violence against political officials, the sheriff's "offer" to send his armed posse members to help "enforce all the laws" and his comments in the media about his "hope" that nothing happens to the Congressman.
"Talking about violence and public officials gets our attention, so we asked the Capitol police to look into it. They decided they would contact the FBI field office in Phoenix," says Douglas Rivlin, director of communication in the Congressman's Washington, D.C. office. "We don't know what, if anything, they're going to do with the information."
A U.S. Capitol Police spokesman tells New Times they don't release any information about safety measures.
(Arpaio should make a note of how law enforcement works -- given that he sent out his offer to Wilcox for "security" and used his anti-immigrant lingo about "enforcing all the laws" via the press.)
Arpaio's thinly-veiled attempts at intimidating people from showing up at the event aren't going to keep Gutiérrez away, Rivlin says.
Gutiérrez, a national voice on immigration reform, has endorsed Wilcox's campaign.
"The Congressman is enthusiastic to come and stand with Mary Rose. He likes her a lot and he's looking forward to campaigning with her," Rivlin says, dismissing Arpaio's actions as others have as a "publicity stunt" and a "distraction."
He says that, while the office at times notifies local law enforcement in advance of the Congressman's visit, getting the U.S. Capitol police, which provides protection to federal lawmakers, was an extra precaution.
"These steps aren't typical, but it's also not typical that the [law enforcement] in the jurisdiction is doing the stirring up in the first place," Rivlin says. "What are we going to do? Call MCSO and say, 'Hey, this guy Sheriff Arpaio is going to send armed posse of his anti-immigration activists to the event.' It just doesn't make sense."
He says that as Gutiérrez's staff, they have to do their due diligence.
And, he says he believes that Arpaio's attempt at intimidating Wilcox and others have backfired because he's only drawn attention to the fact that "Mary Rose has stood up to him in the past ... and that she's a fighter against Arpaio and what he stands for. And that's one of the reason Luis Gutiérrez wants her in the U.S. Congress."
Click here for full details of Friday immigration rally at which Gutiérrez and Wilcox will call for President Obama to provide immediate relief through executive action in response to the humanitarian crisis of children from Central America arriving at America's border.
Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.