Mike Rosenberg, firstname.lastname@example.org
The investigation into the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona has led detectives to state Sen. Leland Yee, who also received death threats for criticizing Sarah Palin, but officials are not saying whether they have uncovered any link between the two.
The chief of staff for Yee, a Democrat representing northern San Mateo County and western San Francisco, said he was briefly questioned by a Pima County, Ariz., sheriff's detective who called him Monday. The Tucson-area detectives are investigating the shooting that killed six people and injured Giffords, who is also a Democrat.
The Yee staffer, Adam Keigwin, said the detective told him investigators wanted to know about the death threats Yee received after he ruffled the feathers of Palin supporters by trying to uncover the details of the former GOP vice presidential candidate's speaking contract with a state university. Yee's office was flooded with graphic voice mails and faxes during the ordeal last spring, but he never faced a physical confrontation.
"(The Arizona detective) said, 'In our situation we're seeing very similar faxes and wanted to follow up on the status of your investigation,' " Keigwin said Thursday.
Keigwin gave the detective information about the Palin-Yee conflict and eventually the Arizona police official ended up on the phone with California Highway Patrol investigators. The CHP's Capitol Protection Section has since taken over the Yee threats case from state Senate Chief Sergeant-at-Arms Tony Beard, who acts as the law enforcement for senators.
"I don't know that there's any relationship to anything in Tucson," Beard said Thursday. "I've got the (CHP) investigators working on that. So far I haven't heard anything at all."
CHP officials said they could not discuss details of the investigation. Pima County sheriff's officials said they were focusing on the funerals for the victims Thursday and could not provide more information.
It's unknown whether any of the same people behind the Yee threats could have been connected to the messages sent before the Giffords shooting. No suspects have been identified in the recent threats against Yee.
As a precaution, Keigwin said the Capitol's sergeant-at-arms office will provide safety training for the senator's staff at offices in Sacramento, San Francisco and San Mateo.
"You often dismiss a lot of these, just some crazy (people who are) letting some steam out and won't follow through to whatever they're threatening," Keigwin said. "Now as we get those threats, we'll take them more seriously."
It's unclear exactly what sort of messages the Arizona detectives were investigating, although the attack there has sparked criticism of right-wing activists and suspected shooter Jared Loughner reportedly had a history of making death threats.
In Yee's case, he was bombarded with angry anti-liberal messages during his lengthy effort to unveil the fees and perks Cal State Stanislaus administrators agreed to give Palin to speak at a university fundraiser.
Despite some rough similarities, a CHP spokesman noted that detectives think Loughner acted alone. And he has no known connection with Yee or the Bay Area.
Yee, who is also in the spotlight for his current campaign to be elected mayor of San Francisco, will likely not request security for public appearances unless there is a specific threat, Keigwin said.
That's happened before, as Yee previously received threats for his stances on video games and civil rights laws. In one case, CHP officers accompanied him to a news conference after an anonymous foe said if Yee showed up to the event he'd be a "dead man."
Mike Rosenberg covers San Mateo, Burlingame, Belmont and transportation. Contact him at 650-348-4324