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Published: Tuesday, 6/22/2010

Latta condemns alleged threat made at town hall meeting

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

U.S. Rep. Robert Latta (R., Bowling Green) Tuesday issued a statement condemning what he said was a threat to the President of the United States made at his town hall meeting in Fremont Monday night.

The alleged threat voiced at the meeting and Mr. Latta's delayed reaction also drew a condemnation from Chris Redfern, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party.

Mr. Latta said the remark, which was shouted out from the audience while another person was at the microphone, was brought to his attention later. He said his back was turned to the audience at the time and that he was writing on the white board.

"Following last night's America Speaking Out event, it was brought to my attention that someone in the crowd suggested inflicting physical harm to the President of the United States," Mr. Latta's statement said.

"I categorically condemn any notion of inflicting physical harm, or making threats, to the President or any elected official. We live in a great nation where change is made at the ballot box," he said, according to the statement issued Tuesday.

Mr. Latta was conducting an America Speaking Out meeting in which the House GOP caucus is collecting ideas and opinions to help develop an agenda for change.

The person who made the remark, Rob Voska, 47, of Green Springs, Ohio, was asked later in an interview with The Blade if he was referring to the President.

"Hell no," he said. Asked who, then, he meant, Mr. Voska said, "all of them."

"They ought to all be impeached. They broke the Constitution. You take an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States. They voted for health care. That's unconstitutional. They should all be impeached for that. They should be tried, convicted, and because they're elected officials, I don't know if jail's good enough for them," said Mr. Voska, who said he is a tool and die worker.

The comment was made in response to a speaker who was urging Mr. Latta to treat his Democratic colleagues in Congress not as peers but as "enemies."

The speaker said, "If you can get them impeached, if you can get them thrown in jail." At that point, Mr. Voska shouted out, "shot in the head."

David Popp, a spokesman for Mr. Latta, said that neither the Secret Service nor the FBI had become involved, to his knowledge.

Mr. Redfern said he was disturbed by the lack of outrage to Mr. Latta's muted response to the shooting comment and to questions raised about whether Mr. Obama was born in the U.S.

"You have a member of Congress who sits in a meeting and allows constituents to suggest that Democrats should be shot in the head. It's shocking the level of discourse that is taking place in Republican town hall meetings. It is a sad reminder of the vacuum of leadership that is the Republican caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives," Mr. Redfern said.

A questioner at the meeting asked Mr. Latta to take a position on whether Mr. Obama is an American or an African, as a speaker had just suggested. Mr. Latta did not respond to the question.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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