The holidays have ushered in a rash of swatting incidents targeting politicians across the U.S., with phony calls for help leading heavily armed law enforcement personnel to show up at the homes of unsuspecting members of Congress and other elected officials. The highest-profile episode came on Christmas Day, when Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) announced on X, “I was just swatted. This is like the 8th time. On Christmas with my family here.” Other similar episodes followed this week in locations as varied as Cayuga County, N.Y., DeKalb County, Ga., Lincoln, Neb., and Licking County, Ohio, reports the Washington Post.
On Thursday, Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) posted on social media that his home in Naples had been swatted by “cowards” while he was at dinner with his wife. “These criminals wasted the time & resources of our law enforcement in a sick attempt to terrorize my family,” Scott wrote. These episodes are the latest in a dangerous trend of people trying to send law enforcement personnel to homes, businesses or schools by falsely claiming a violent crime is under way or just took place.
Prof. Lauren Shapiro of John Jay College of Criminal Justice said lawmakers may be targeted over specific legislation, or because of their more broadly held beliefs and positions. When “someone disagrees with a person’s beliefs/statements/etc., the person may lash out by launching a harassment campaign, stalking, swatting, etc., to try to intimidate the target into silence,” Shapiro said. Another expert said high-profile episodes targeting lawmakers could spur copycats. After the Greene episode on Christmas Day, several other lawmakers in Georgia and around the country were similarly targeted. Several state senators in Georgia, as well as the state’s lieutenant governor, were also targeted this week, prompting calls for state legislation to strengthen laws against swatting. When a member of Congress is targeted by a swatting call, the U.S. Capitol Police seeks to “work closely with our local and federal law enforcement partners,” the agency said. “To protect ongoing investigations and to minimize the risk of copy-cats, we cannot provide more details at this time.”