Rep. Ron Erhardt allegedly said, "I'll blow your head off" when contacted by gun rights group
Irony: Erhardt allegedly threatened to shoot a gun rights activist.
Each election cycle, the Minnesota Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance contacts the 280-plus candidates running for the Minnesota House in hopes of surveying them about their views on gun rights.
As you'd probably expect, some candidates choose not to respond to GOCRA's questionnaire. No biggie. But the organization is recommending Rep. Ron Erhardt (D-Edina) receive anger management therapy after he allegedly threatened to kill GOCRA President Andrew Rothman when he was contacted about the survey.
Earlier this summer, GOCRA sent two emails asking Erhardt, 84, to respond to their questions. He didn't respond, so at 5:19 p.m. on July 19, Rothman followed up with a phone call.
Here's how that conversation went, according to an affidavit signed by Rothman:
When contacted, the individual answering the phone identified himself as Ron Erhardt. Your affiant identified himself and reminded Rep. Erhardt of the approaching questionnaire deadline. Rep. Erhardt indicated that he did not intend to complete the survey. Your affiant, following the procedure used with each candidate, reminded Mr. Erhardt that GOCRA's policy was to give a special "F*" grade to candidates with no voting record or survey, as set out in the "How will this information be used?" section of the introduction...
Rep. Erhardt responded, yelling, "Give me a double F! No more surveys! You come near me, and I'll blow your head off!" Rep. Erhardt then disconnected the phone call. The call's duration was 78 seconds.
The next section of the affidavit describes Rothman's reaction to that exchange:
Your affiant found it quite remarkable, in his experience, to be threatened in such a fashion. In his dealings with other candidates over the years, even those who are openly antagonistic to GOCRA and its efforts, the candidates' responses have been civil, mature, and professional. In his dealings with other sitting legislators, as a citizen and, now, registered lobbyist for GOCRA, he has never had a legislator act in such a manner for merely approaching him or her, reacting so explosively and with threats of violence. Your affiant noted it contemporaneously on his call log, and immediately called Bryan Strawser, executive director of GOCRA's polling partner, MNGOPAC, to report and memorialize the exchange, and to inquire whether he, or others, had experienced anything even remotely similar. To the best of affiant's information and belief, none had.
Rothman, who has been involved with GOCRA for about six years, tells us that while he didn't interpret Erhardt's remark as "a credible threat," he still plans to keep his distance.
"I have no intention of visiting Mr. Erhardt in Edina," he tells us, adding that he hasn't been in touch with the representative since that phone call.
On its website, GOCRA summarizes each candidate's responses to its questionnaire. With regard to Erhardt, after conveying the gist of the exchange he had with Rothman, it says, "We recommend anger management therapy and early retirement for this candidate."
Erhardt was first elected to the House as a Republican back in 1991, but after clashing with Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty, he was denied the MNGOP endorsement in his district in 2008. He subsequently switched sides and was elected as the DFL-endorsed representative of a different House district in 2012.
Erhardt, who voted against Minnesota's firearm carry permit law back in 2003, didn't respond to a voicemail and email seeking comment.
To read Rothman's affidavit for yourself, click to page two.
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