Government

Grassley reveals his life was threatened

Senator: Vote for Reynolds in case I can't serve

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, addresses Wednesday’s meeting of the Westside Conservative Club in Urbandale. (Rod Boshart/The Gazette)
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, addresses Wednesday’s meeting of the Westside Conservative Club in Urbandale. (Rod Boshart/The Gazette)

URBANDALE — U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley gave Iowa Republicans a new reason Wednesday to keep Kim Reynolds as governor in next month’s election: He doesn’t want a Democrat to name his replacement should he be unable to serve out his term through 2022.

The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, who was a focal point during the recent confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, also revealed to a conservative group he is one of two senators who had been unnamed in an incident that resulted in “the arrest of a person that threatened to murder me on Sept. 1.”

“My staff told me, ‘you aren’t supposed to ever say you had your life threatened because you’re just Senator No. 1 as far as the court documents are concerned,’” Grassley told about 150 people at Wednesday’s Westside Conservative Club. “I don’t know who leaked my name but it’s out there, so I’m telling you about it.”

According to a complaint prepared by the U.S. Capitol Police, Ronald DeRisi, 74, of Smithtown, N.Y., was arrested last week on charges he made death threats against two senators in retaliation for their support of Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. The man threatened to murder and assault the senators in more than 10 voicemail messages left to their offices.

Grassley thanked law enforcement authorities for being able to solve the case, telling Wednesday’s gathering “you never think the police would be sophisticated enough to chase that down, and by golly they did.”

“The last few weeks have been a little stressful, but the outcome was worth it,” the New Hartford Republican noted, pointing to a 50-48 Senate confirmation vote he said came after Democrats tried unsuccessfully to persuade at least two GOP senators to oppose Kavanaugh.

“The whole thing was stall, stall, stall until we get by this election so that Democrats can take over and we will keep this seat vacant for the next two years. It didn’t work and the country is better off because it didn’t work,” said Grassley, who noted that “Remember Kavanaugh” has become a battle cry for Republicans during the midterm elections.

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Grassley, who later joined Reynolds to kickoff a campaign bus tour at a nearby Waukee rally site, urged Republicans to work hard in the days leading up to the Nov. 6 election to help her defeat Democratic challenger Fred Hubbell.

“I’m very, very healthy,” Grassley told the club, but he reminded them he is 85 and will be 89 by the end of his current six-year term.

“Don’t ask me if I’m going to run for re-election because I’m not going to say,” the senator said, but added, “If I’m healthy, who knows what I might do. My wife will have something to say about that.

“But something could happen to me in the next four years,” he added. “I don’t want a Democrat appointing my successor — who would be a Democrat and not a Republican — so keep that in mind when you work for Kim Reynolds.”

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