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Capitol Hill GOP lawmakers ask Holder to probe harassment of conservative bloggers

 

Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill are asking the Justice Department to investigate the harassment of conservative bloggers that includes bogus 911 calls that send police to their homes to investigate shootings.

Rep. Kenny Marchant, Texas Republican, sent a letter Thursday to Attorney General Eric Holder, following several reported incidents over the past few months.

“I am very afraid of the potential chilling effects that these reported actions may have in silencing individuals who would otherwise be inclined to exercise their Constitutional right to free speech,” Marchant wrote.

His letter follows a similar one sent Wednesday by GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss.

At least two conservative Internet pundits have reported being victims of the so-called "SWAT-ing," referring to a police SWAT team being dispatched to victims’ homes.

The most recent incident involved blogger Erick Erickson, who claims on his Red State site that sheriff's deputies arrived at his Macon, Ga., home May 27 as his family gathered for dinner.

He said the episode was unnerving, considering one deputy had his hand on his pistol. But Erickson admitted it could have been worse had he not warned officials that such an incident might occur.

In July 2001, Patrick Frey, a deputy district attorney at Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, was awoken shortly after midnight by sheriff deputies after they received a call about a shooting inside his home.

In the purported recording of the 911 call, the caller can be heard saying: “I’d like to report a shooting … I shot her, my wife.” Police ordered Frey at gunpoint to get outside, then handcuffed him until completing a search and finding his wife and children safe, writes Frey on his blog, Patterico Pontifications.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department confirmed the incident and said the case had been referred to the FBI. 

Frey said talks with nationwide experts suggested this was a case of SWAT-ing and says he and all previous victims had all written about activist and convicted felon Brett Kimberlin -- about whom Erickson has also written.  

Kimberlin said he has no connection to any of the attacks.  

“I had never even heard of Erick Erickson until a couple of days ago,” he told FoxNews.com. “I have nothing to do with the SWAT-ing of anybody.”

Kimberlin’s criminal history dates back to the 1970s.  He was convicted on felony charges in connection with the series of 1978 bombings in Speedway, Ind., in which a victim lost a leg -- Kimberlin has maintained his innocence in that case all along. He also has been convicted on charges related to an attempt to import marijuana. He gained some notoriety in 1988 after saying he had sold marijuana to Dan Quayle before he became vice president.