A group of Republican senators introduced a bill Thursday designed to protect government workers and their information as they work from home during the coronavirus pandemic.
The legislation, dubbed Public Servant Protection Act, gives all government employees, appointees and elected officials the right to have their home addresses and phone numbers as well as their immediate families’ contact information removed from publicly displayed websites. The bill also makes it a crime to post any such information online with the intent to cause physical harm.
Those who do maliciously post the home addresses and phone numbers of government employees or their immediate family members could face a fine and up to a year in prison. If injury or death results, violators of the law could serve up to life in prison.
The bill was introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and GOP Sens. Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), John Boozman (Ark.), Tom Cotton (Ark.), Kelly Loeffler (Ga.), David Perdue (Ga.) and Rick Scott (Fla.).
“No public servant should be endangered or subject to harassment for doing their job. But as activist mobs increasingly target elected officials and police officers, additional protection is warranted. Our bill will help shield government workers and officials by increasing penalties on malicious actors and protecting workers’ personal information,” said Cotton.
“I’m proud to sponsor the Public Servant Protection Act to protect hardworking public servants and their family members. These individuals dedicate their lives to serving the American people, and it’s disgusting that they would have to live in fear of targeted harassment, harm or violence in their own homes, just for doing their jobs,” added Scott.
The senators specifically cited U.S. District Judge Esther Salas, whose son and husband were murdered in her home in July, alleging that “anti-police rhetoric” and “mobs of activists” are threatening officials in their homes.
The introduction of the legislation also comes as election workers face death threats related to claims that the presidential race last month was rigged, with some officials pushing back at President Trump, who has repeatedly claimed that the election results are invalid due to widespread voter fraud.
Federal and state elections officials have said since the election that there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud.
“Mr. President, it looks like a likely loss in the state of Georgia,” Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s Republican voting system manager, said this week.
“We’re investigating. There’s always a possibility. I get it. You have the rights to go through the court. What you don’t have the ability to do – and you need to step up and say this – is stop inspiring people to commit potential violence. Someone’s going to get hurt. Someone’s going to get shot. Someone’s going to get killed. It’s not right,” Sterling said.