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The High Cost of Public Service

Threats against elected officials are a threat to democracy.

Virtual event
  • Anna Eskamani
  • ,
  • Gowri Ramachandran
  • ,
  • Tom Roberts
  • ,
  • Deirdre Walsh
  • Letitia James
Illustration of a person taking oath of office while silhouetted people shout at them

Threats are part of the disturbing new reality of American politics. While abuse directed at federal officeholders grabs the headlines, a new Brennan Center report reveals that intimidation aimed at state and local officials is distressingly common: 43 percent of state legislators, for example, have experienced threats within the past three years. 

In addition to menacing public servants and their families, these threats have serious repercussions for representative democracy. Officeholders report being less willing to work on contentious issues like reproductive rights and gun control and more reluctant to continue serving. Additionally, intimidation is often targeted at groups already underrepresented in government, such as women and people of color.

Join us on Tuesday, April 30, at 3 p.m. ET for a virtual discussion of this alarming trend, as well as recommendations to stem the abuse. Panelists Gowri Ramachandran, deputy director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program, Florida State Rep. Anna Eskamani, and former Nevada State Assemblymember Tom Roberts will be joined by moderator Deirdre Walsh of NPR. New York State Attorney General Letitia James, who herself has experienced threats of violence, will also deliver remarks. 


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