The U.S. Senate has been called many things, from an exclusive club to a hotbed of treason. But thanks to the labors of some unknown pranksters, this week it's begun to look like the chamber of the walking dead.
Someone's been having a little fun at the expense of a growing number of lawmakers by sending out press releases announcing their deaths. Contrary to recent fake notices, Sens. Dianne Feinstein, Patrick Leahy, Frank Lautenberg and, as of Wednesday morning, Kay Bailey Hutchison are all very much alive.
The release about Leahy said the senator had died of "liver cancer at his home," according to WTOP radio in D.C., which received the bogus announcement.
Capitol Hill police confirmed that they've opened an investigation into who's behind the fake announcements. But reports of the investigation haven't stopped the unknown hoaxer (or hoaxers) yet. Hutchison's office confirmed to Yahoo! News that the senator had been targeted Wednesday morning, after multiple news outlets reported the Hill investigation.
According to reports thus far, all the emails say the members died of cancer at their homes. That wording is especially insensitive to Lautenberg, who announced just a few days ago that he was cancer-free after completing treatment for stomach cancer.
For now, the false news has been mostly contained, though some of the erroneous reports have made their way onto blogs such as HotAir (which issued a retraction) and onto social media sites.
Here's a Twitter retraction from USA Breaking News, which has nearly 13,000 followers:
"CORRECTION:WE APOLOGIZE BUT APARENTLY WE RECEIVED FALSE INFORMATION REGARDING SEN. LAUTENBERG, ACCORDING TO POLITICO.COM.AGAIN, WE ARE SORRY"
Just 14 followers have retweeted the correction.
— Michael Calderone contributed to this story.