Politics

F-Bombs and C-Word Prompted Cotton Cease and Desist Letters

Recipients of letters argue they can use coarse language if they want

The office of Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., sent a number of cease and desist letters after a slew of calls from constituents using coarse language. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Incessant phone calls and abusive language prompted Sen. Tom Cotton’s office to mail cease and desist letters to members of the liberal activist group Ozark Indivisible, in October.

One of those constituents, Stacey Lane of Fayetteville, Arkansas, told ArkansasOnline that she received the ultimatum after “an f-bomb or two” during phone conversations with Cotton staffers.

Another called one of Cotton’s 19-year-old interns a “c--t,” one of the Arkansas Republican’s aides alleged on Twitter.

Cotton’s office had had enough.

“This letter is immediate notification that all communication must cease and desist immediately with all offices of US Senator Tom Cotton,” the letter, dated Oct. 17 of last year, said. “All other contact will be deemed harassment and will be reported to the United States Capitol Police.”

Cotton’s office rarely sends cease and desist letters to constituents, Caroline Rabbitt Tabler, his communications director, said in a statement. They only send the letters “under extreme circumstances” after previous warnings go unheeded.

“Senator Cotton is always happy to hear from Arkansans and encourages everyone to contact his offices to express their thoughts, concerns, and opinions,” Rabbitt Tabler said.

“In order to maintain a safe work environment, if an employee of Senator Cotton receives repeated communications that are harassing and vulgar, or any communication that contains a threat, our policy is to notify the U.S. Capitol Police’s Threat Assessment Section and, in accordance with their guidance, send a cease and desist letter to the individual making the harassing or threatening communication.”

Lane said she should not be restricted from calling her senator because she uses coarse language. She likened her speech to President Donald Trump’s.

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“Have I used expletives? Yes,” Lane told ArkansasOnline. “I like to think I use them appropriately and to get people’s attention.”

Lane has used expletives in phone conversations with staffers for Arkansas Sen. John Boozman and Rep. Steve Womack. Neither office has threatened to call the police, she said.

A spokesman for Boozman said the senator has not sent cease and desists to callers for using indecent language, “nor is it something that he would really contemplate.”

Cotton’s office has not accused any of the recipients of the letter of threatening the senator or any of his staff, Rabbit Tabler said.

Cotton’s office has not officially shared any specifics on the conversations that led to the letters.

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