House Republicans Getting Anonymous Debt Ceiling Threats — By One Of Their Own Members?

Is an anonymous House Republican sending threatening emails to their colleagues to try and pressure them into voting against the debt ceiling increase? It sounds bizarre, but at least two GOP Congressmen, including Speaker John Boehner, have received such emails, and one lawmaker is convinced that they’re coming from inside the Republican caucus. This is taking the “GOP civil war” to a whole new level.

After trying desperately to extract some sort of ransom from Democrats in exchange for raising the debt ceiling, Republicans leadership threw in the towel on Tuesday and passed a clean increase. But in the weeks leading up to that vote, Boehner and Congressman James Lankford both received anonymous emails to their internal Congressional accounts from someone identifying themselves as “unrepresentative one.” The cryptic, disorganized messages suggest that if they vote to increase the debt ceiling, they’ll face political retribution.

“John, I’ve never voted against you,” one of the emails to Boehner reads. “Nor have I ever not done whatever you asked of me, nor am I one of the second-guessers who thinks you have an easy job. But, isn’t it time we stopped lying to the American People in re the debt limit?”

The message goes on to insist that failing to raise the debt ceiling won’t cause the U.S. to default on its debt, providing links to articles in Forbes and the Wall Street Journal to back up that assertion, and ultimately demands that Republicans ask for concessions in return for authorizing the increase.

“No need to figure out immediately what our pricetag should be, except that ‘free’ isn’t a price — and if we’re going to stand firm to literally demand anything, let’s make it big,” the message to Boehner reads.

Lankford received the same message as Boehner, and attached to it was a list of lawmakers who’d voted for previous debt ceiling increases, as well as a list of Lankford’s donors.

So, where did these messages come from? On the one hand, the phrasing of the emails heavily suggest that they were sent from within the Republican caucus — the message to Lankford reads “see you soon,” while Boehner’s email contained a reference to having done “whatever you asked of me” in the past. In addition, legislators’ internal Congressional addresses — which are separate from both their public emails and personal emails — are generally very closely guarded and only known to those who are very close to them.

“It’s got to be another member,” a Republican lawmaker told BuzzFeed after seeing the emails. “Probably one of the crazy ones.”

On the other hand, as Lankford points out, there’s also reason to believe that this is all a ruse.

“It reads too weird to be that. Some of the statements, some of the stuff in it … at one point in one of the original emails they call me Jim. No one calls me Jim. I go by James. There’s one addressed to the speaker and it’s starts off to ‘John.’ Nobody calls the speaker ‘John,’” Lankford told BuzzFeed. “So it looks like something someone has created on the outside that wants to pretend they look like us. Because I keep looking at and reading it and thinking nobody even reads or writes like this. And it’s just too weird.”

Either way, it’s very strange. Oh, and for the record, “unrepresentative one” is incorrect in his or her insistence that letting the U.S. blast through the debt ceiling would be no big deal. It would, in fact, be a very big deal.

In any event, these attempts weren’t successful. The debt ceiling increase ultimately passed, and now heads to the Senate, where Ted Cruz says he’ll filibuster it.

Image: Getty Images