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Rep. McCollum is unphased by death threat over her NASCAR amendment

Seeking to stop the Pentagon from using taxpayer funds to sponsor NASCAR — and earning a death threat along the way — Rep. Betty McCollum sponsored an amendment to ban such funding. By a House vote of 148 to 281, that measure failed on Friday afternoon.

The St. Paul Democrat called the expenditure of $7 million by the Department of Defense on NASCAR an “absurdity,” especially in times of government budget deficits and belt tightening.

This was a vote about priorities and making smart choices,” said McCollum Chief of Staff Bill Harper in a statement. “With trillion dollar federal deficits this vote to protect taxpayer funded race cars shows that even a Tea Party Republican-led Congress is not serious about cutting wasteful spending. The American people need to know that a majority in Congress is willing to cut homeless veterans, community health centers, and family planning services, but spend millions of tax dollars for race cars.”

McCollum’s sponsorship of the amendment, which was part of H.R. 1, the appropriations bill to fund the federal government through September, resulted in a threatening fax that’s being investigated by Capitol police. The racist message showed the head of Barack Obama within a noose being pulled behind a pickup truck — a clear reference to the 1998 dragging death and beheading of James Byrd, Jr., an African-African man in Jasper, Texas. It called for “Death to all Marxists,” called McCollum a “slut” and told her to shut her “phucking [sic] pie hole.”

California State Sen. Leland Yee received a nearly identical fax in late January.

In a release, McCollum’s office says she’s “undeterred”:

[S]he intends to introduce legislation to prohibit taxpayer funds from being used for sponsorship of race cars, dragsters, Indy cars, and motorcycle racing, as well as repeal the $45 million special tax earmark for NASCAR and race track owners included in the 2010 law that extended the Bush tax cuts and added $858 billion to the federal budget deficit.

McCollum was unable to vote on the amendment because she’s traveling to the Middle East to speak at a security conference.

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