Bernie Sanders was quick to distance himself from his former campaign volunteer who shot Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) and three others at a park Wednesday. However, when a shooting involving a Democratic member of Congress occurred in 2011, Sanders was quick to blame Republicans, and Sarah Palin in particular. Worse yet, he used the shooting to fundraise campaign donations.
James T. Hodgkinson opened fire on Republican members of Congress yesterday while they practiced at an Alexandria, VA baseball field for an upcoming charity game. Rep. Steve Scalise and three others were shot and remain hospitalized. Hodgkinson was shot and killed by members of Scalise’s security detail.
Hodgkinson was a vocal Sanders fan and volunteered for his recent Presidential campaign. He was also a member of a number of anti-Republican groups on Facebook, including “Terminate the Republican Party.”
The Washington Free Beacon reports that Sanders was eager to make political connection when Gabrielle Giffords was shot in 2011. In an email asking for campaign donations, he set his sights on Sarah Palin.
“This horrendous act of violence is not some kind of strange aberration for this area where, it appears, threats and acts of violence are part of the political climate,” Sanders wrote in a fundraising email in January 2011. “Nobody can honestly express surprise that such a tragedy finally occurred.”
Giffords was critically wounded by a gunshot wound to the head during an assassination attempt. Twenty people were shot, and six of them were killed.
“Congresswoman Giffords publicly expressed concerns when Sarah Palin, on her website, placed her district in the cross-hairs of a rifle—and identified her by name below the image—as an encouragement to Palin supporters to eliminate her from Congress,” the Vermont senator wrote.
Sanders was hardly alone in blaming Palin at the time; the New York Times, the Atlantic, the New York Daily News, and Gawker all pointed to the map with the crosshairs.
There was never any actual evidence presented that Jared Loughner, a diagnosed schizophrenic who pleaded guilty to the shooting, was a Palin fan, a Tea Party supporter, or that he had ever seen Palin’s “crosshairs” map. One friend tweeted that “he was left wing, quite liberal.”