Saying he's "very passionate about politics," a Vancouver man on Thursday admitted to sending emails threatening to kill a Republican state Senate candidate.
Gary K. Owen, 50, pleaded guilty to harassment, a gross misdemeanor, and was sentenced to serve 30 days on a jail work crew. Clark County Superior Court Judge Dan Stahnke also ordered Owen to be on community supervision for two years. Owen has credit for five days already served in the Clark County Jail.
The judge expressed disgust after reading over the two emails that Owen sent this summer to Eileen Qutub, a candidate for the 49th District. The emails were sent by Owen because he was upset at receiving Qutub's campaign mailers.
"You said you are pretty passionate about politics?" Stahnke asked. "This is passion for politics?"
"It was out of line," Owen responded.
"It's so far from the line," the judge said.
Owen sent the first email to Qutub on July 21, according to sheriff's deputies, saying, "I would rather put a bullet in your stupid pathetic Republican (expletive) brain than vote for you. Being a Republican and a woman you have no right ever speaking or having an opinion about anything."
On Aug. 4, Owen sent a second email: "I will hunt you down and shove your spam junk mail flier (explicit description) with a hot poker!"
Qutub, who had alerted sheriff's deputies after receiving the second email, said that since she received the emails, she was fearful about campaigning. When she went doorbelling, she started carrying pepper spray and was always accompanied by others.
Qutub is running against Democrat Annette Cleveland for the seat vacated by Craig Pridemore. The seat represents west Vancouver in the Senate.
"I went with great trepidation knocking on doors," she told the judge. "Every door that opened could be him."
In explaining his actions further, Owen said to Stahnke that he had "overreacted to a flier I received."
"It was a moment of anger," he told the judge.
Stahnke pointed out that the two emails were sent two weeks apart, indicating it appeared it was more than a moment of anger. The judge said he worried that Owen had a deeper anger problem and admonished him to be careful expressing his political beliefs in the future.
Owen was initially charged with felony malicious harassment, but accepted the plea bargain to the misdemeanor.
"Certainly, a felony would keep you from voting," Stahnke said. "Keep that in mind."