Politics & Government

Man threatens to kill U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson after she files bill to vaccinate kids

Congresswoman Frederica Wilson speaks during the Miami-Dade Democratic Party Blue Gala at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, on September 29, 2018.
Congresswoman Frederica Wilson speaks during the Miami-Dade Democratic Party Blue Gala at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, on September 29, 2018. pportal@miamiherald.com

A South Florida congresswoman’s life was threatened by a Pentagon contractor after she introduced a bill requiring public schools to vaccinate children before receiving federal funding, according to a complaint and warrant filed in Maryland federal court.

The congressional member was identified by the website The Daily Beast as U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fl. Reached Thursday, Wilson’s communications director Joyce Jones referred all calls to the Capitol Police, who are overseeing the investigation. A call to the Capitol Police had not been returned by late afternoon.

The criminal complaint and application for search and seizure filed in U.S. District Court in the District of Maryland does not identify Wilson by name, referring to her only as “Congressperson #1.”

According to the complaint, Darryl Albert Varnum called Wilson’s Florida office on June 26, threatening to come down to Miami and kill her if the bill were introduced.

“I’m gonna kill your ass if you do that bill. I swear. I will f---ing come down and kill your f---ing ass. And you’re a congressperson, that’s fine. I hope the f---ing FBI, CIA and everybody else hears this s---,” Varnum was recorded as saying on Wilson’s voicemail according to the complaint. “This is the United States of America, bitch. Get the f--- out... I’ll tell you what I’ll come down to Miami bitch. I’ll f--- you up. Like Cubans don’t even know.”

According to the warrant, only 12 minutes after making the threat, Varnum posted a picture of the American flag on his Facebook page with the words “H.R. 2527 Vaccinate All Children Act of 2019.” Then, the warrant says, he wrote, “Holocaust has begun! I’m done with this bulls---. Time to step up or ship out!”

And 23 minutes after that, the warrant says Varnum followed his screed with this: “All of our guns are next, been trying for years!”

It wasn’t clear Thursday if Varnum had hired an attorney. A call to Varnum’s cellphone went unanswered.

In May, as controversy swirled over statements made by some prominent anti-vaxxers, Wilson introduced the Vaccinate All Children Act, which is still making its way through Congress.

Varnum, the complaint says, works for a company in Columbia, Maryland, called Sealing Technology, which is currently contracted out by the U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency. He has access to sensitive information, according to Special Agent Sean Wilson of the U.S. Capitol Police. The warrant permitted Wilson to seize, extract and examine all of Varnum’s electronic devices.

The complaint notes that during an encounter with police in 2015, Varnum’s wife said her husband owned several guns and that he had behavioral issues. When police arrived, they found him in his garage with a bottle of Vodka and a rifle, according to the warrant.

He told police that ISIS and Taliban militants would soon descend on his home. Police said Varnum was co-operative and non-violent and escorted him to the hospital for an evaluation.

President Donald Trump and U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson from Miami Gardens feuded over a call he made to a fallen soldier's widow. Sgt. La David T. Johnson was killed in an ambush during a joint-military mission in Niger on Oct. 4, 2017.

Wilson was also on the receiving end of death threats in 2017 after she got into a squabble with President Donald Trump after the death of Sgt. La David T. Johnson, a friend and constituent of the congresswoman’s who was ambushed and killed in Niger. Wilson said she overheard Trump telling a family member that even though Johnson knew what he signed up for, “it hurts anyway.”

After Trump claimed that Wilson fabricated the story — despite Johnson’s wife confirming Wilson’s account — the congresswoman’s office received enough threats that she was forced to up her security detail.