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Rep. Eric Swalwell is the latest public official to face death threats

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A Florida man was arrested for allegedly sending death threats to Rep. Eric Swalwell and his children, in yet another case of a public official being targeted by violent threats.

According to the criminal complaint, Michael Shapiro, 72, of Greenacres, Florida, left five expletive-laden voicemails on Swalwell’s Washington, D.C., office line on Dec. 19, threatening to kill him and his children. Court documents don’t name Swalwell, but the California Democrat confirmed that he was the target of those threats in a statement, NBC News reports. Shapiro is scheduled to be arraigned on Jan. 24.

According to the complaint, Shapiro also allegedly accused Swalwell of being a Chinese spy in reference to allegations about his ties to Christine Fang, a suspected Chinese intelligence operative. The House Ethics Committee closed an investigation into those allegations last year after finding no wrongdoing on Swalwell’s part.

The complaint also stated that Shapiro, who appeared before a judge on Wednesday morning, had pleaded guilty in a separate federal case to making a threatening communication in 2019.

Swalwell is only the latest public official to receive violent death threats that have made headlines. Amid deepening political divisions, there has been a steep rise in threats against public officials across the country.

These incidents, which have plagued judges, election workers, lawmakers and law enforcement officers, have alarmed officials, many of whom are condemning powerful political figures — chief among them former President Donald Trump — for not just failing to speak out against the violent rhetoric but for contributing to and encouraging it as well.

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