In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then he made School Boards.
– Following the Equator; Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar
People say all kinds of things to public figures.
A bill, introduced today by Representative Bonnaye Mims (D):
FIRST REGULAR SESSION
HOUSE BILL NO. 1106 [pdf]
98TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY
INTRODUCED BY REPRESENTATIVE MIMS.
2437L.01I D. ADAM CRUMBLISS, Chief Clerk
To amend chapter 576, RSMo, by adding thereto one new section relating to intimidating a
public figure, with penalty provisions and an emergency clause.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the state of Missouri, as follows:
Section A. Chapter 576, RSMo, is amended by adding thereto one new section, to be known as section 576.090, to read as follows:
576.090. 1. This section shall be known and may be cited as the “Political Intimidation Prevention Act”.
2. As used in this section, the following terms mean:
(1) “Intimidating conduct”, any verbal, physical, or written conduct that threatens, coerces, harasses, or attempts to threaten, coerce, or harass a public figure;
(2) “Public figure”, any elected official of this state or any political subdivision thereof, or any candidate for any elected office of this state or any political subdivision thereof.
3. A person commits the offense of intimidating a public figure if the person intentionally engages in or attempts to engage in intimidating conduct in such a manner that such intimidating conduct or attempt creates a hostile environment during the course of such public figure’s performance of duties related to the public figure’s elected office or during the course of such public figure’s campaign for elected office, and the existence of the hostile environment adversely affects the public figure’s performance of duties related to such public office or causes the public figure to resign from the office to which the public figure has been elected or to cease campaigning for such office.
4. (1) The offense of intimidating a public figure is a class A misdemeanor, unless the offense causes physical harm to the public figure, in which case it is a class D felony until December 31, 2016, and a class E felony beginning January 1, 2017.
(2) In addition to any penalty provided in subdivision (1) of this subsection, if any elected official of the state or any political subdivision thereof commits the offense of intimidating a public figure, such elected official shall immediately forfeit such office.
5. This section shall not apply to verbal, physical, or written conduct engaged in by any person in the course of reporting or investigating any misdemeanor or felony committed by a public figure.
Section B. Because immediate action is necessary to prevent intimidation of elected officials and candidates for public office, this act is deemed necessary for the immediate preservation of the public health, welfare, peace, and safety, and is hereby declared to be an emergency act within the meaning of the constitution, and this act shall be in full force and effect upon its passage and approval.
[emphasis in original]
So, if someone asks a tough question of a public figure and that public figure thinks anyone who asks them tough questions is harassing them, is it still a crime to ask? Just asking.
If a constituent threatens to not vote for a public figure (for whatever reason) and that upsets the public figure, is it still considered a threat? Just asking.
If you quote Mark Twain to a member of your local school board and they get upset and decide to not run for reelection, is it still a crime? Just asking.