Attorneys for a man arrested for sending harassing e-mails to Rep. Rhonda Fields accused her on Tuesday of "trampling" on his free-speech rights to further her political agenda.
Franklin Glenn Sain, 42, of Colorado Springs, remained free on bond facing charges of harassment and attempting to influence a public official, a felony. Denver police say he sent Fields, D-Aurora, at least six e-mails and also left her voicemails between Feb. 13 and Feb. 15. He was arrested Friday.
"We are deeply concerned about the government's retaliation against Mr. Sain for his protected First Amendment political speech," defense attorneys Siddhartha Rathod and Qusair Mohamedbhai wrote in a statement. "We appreciate Representative Rhonda Fields's service to our community; however, we remind you that Mr. Sain valiantly served his country as a decorated Iraqi war veteran. Representative Fields appears to be furthering her political agenda by trampling on Mr. Sain's constitutionally protected free speech in order to infringe on all Coloradans' Second Amendment rights."
When asked for Fields' response to the lawyer's statement, Dean Toda, spokesman for the Colorado House Majority Office, said, "Rep. Fields will respond in court."
Sain admitted sending Fields e-mails filled with profanity and racial and sexual epithets, and he told police he left similar voice mails for her, according to an arrest affidavit. Sain told police he sent the e-mails because he was frustrated by Fields' efforts to tighten state gun laws.
In one of the six e-mails detailed in the affidavit, Sain called Fields "pathetic" and also mentioned Rep. Beth McCann, D-Denver.
"Hopefully somebody Gifords both of your asses with a gun," the e-mail said, according to the affidavit. It was an apparent reference to former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head by a gunman in 2011.
Sain did not return calls seeking comment.
"The First Amendment gives a wide berth to political speech," Rathod said in an interview. "You're allowed to say offensive things to your representatives. Our elected officials have to have a thick skin."
Craig Silverman, an attorney representing Fields, released a statement late Tuesday:
"It is outrageous and offensive that Mr. Sain, through his lawyers, now continues this effort to intimidate and bully Rhonda Fields. No Coloradan need endure terroristic threats of the kind made by this accused felon."
Police also believe Sain sent her an unsigned, threatening letter that said: "I keep my 30 Round Magazines There Will Be Blood! I'm Coming For You!" according to the affidavit.
The letter also mentioned Fields' daughter and said: "Death to Both."
Rathod said, "None of the statements attributed to Mr. Sain rise to the level of criminal conduct."
Fields, whose son was shot and killed in 2005 before he was able to testify against a gang member, is sponsoring two bills that aim to close loopholes in private gun sales and limit the capacity of ammunition magazines.
She said Tuesday she was "still very afraid" after receiving the e-mails, which had not shaken her determination to advance gun legislation.
"It really kind of shakes my soul," Fields said. "I've never in my life had anyone address me like that."
Fields said she believed Sain's permit to carry a concealed weapon had been revoked, although neither the El Paso County sheriff's department nor Rathod would confirm that.
Sain was released from the Downtown Denver Detention Center on Friday after posting $30,000 bond. Court records list no conditions on his bail. Denver police searched his home Friday night. But neither police nor Sain's attorney would say what, if anything, was seized.
Meanwhile, an Englewood IT consulting service said it has suspended Sain pending an investigation.
"We are shocked to learn of these allegations and are taking this matter very seriously," SofTec Solutions Inc.'s human resources director Laura Franklin wrote in an e-mailed statement. "If true, these actions are highly inappropriate and will not be tolerated."
On Monday, SofTec's website listed Sain as its chief operating officer. By Tuesday, his profile had been removed from the site, and the company deleted its Twitter account.
"SofTec Solutions is a minority-owned, small business and we employ a large diverse workforce," the company said. "We will absolutely not tolerate any racial, sexual, gender-based slurs or threats of violence by employees."
Army records show Sain served from 1988 to 1998.