Democratic congressional candidate Tulsi Gabbard is a rising star among political circles as evidenced by her speech earlier this month at the Democratic National Convention.
However, Gabbard's new national persona may have also garnered unwanted attention.
Gabbard, who resigned from the City Council Aug. 16 to run for Congress, told KITV4 a threat was made against her life in the form of a text message. Gabbard would not say what was said in the message, but it's believed to have originated in California.
The Honolulu Police Department confirmed Gabbard had filed a terroristic threatening report Thursday. HPD spokeswoman Michelle Yu said investigators are determining whether to classify the case as terroristic threatening in the first or second degree. The former is a Class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison; the later a misdemeanor.
In March, 2011 Gabbard obtained a three-year restraining order against Aniruddah Sherbow after he allegedly made a threatening phone call and pestered Gabbard with insults and vulgarities for three weeks. Sherbow was eventually arrested on suspicion of harassment, but it's unclear if he's involved in the most recent threat against Gabbard. Yu would not say if a suspect had been identified.
Charles Djou, a Republican who served seven months in the U.S. House from 2010 to 2011 and is again running for office, said it's unfortunate, but threats have become commonplace against members of Congress.
"I received threats of a whole range," said Djou, "Anything from just people yelling at me, which I think unfortunately is a part of our democracy today, to some very serious threats. Of course, with those serious threats I would turn them over to Capitol police."
Although U.S. Secret Service protection is customarily afforded to the president, vice-president, speaker of the house and president pro tempore, members of congress are generally not afforded such courtesies.
U.S. Capitol Police advise members of Congress to request officers from local police departments while in their home states. If a representative or senator feels they need extra protection at a scheduled event, such requests are almost never denied.
"Each congressman, I think, is their own judge of how to take the proper security precautions," said Djou. "Here in Hawaii, I compliment the Honolulu Police Department (and) Hawaii sheriffs for being very aware. They've been very cooperative in my experiences as a congressman."