DES MOINES – Iowa Democratic Party Chair Ross Wilburn received multiple threats, including one of lynching, after he penned an opinion piece critical of former President Donald Trump, he told the Des Moines Register.
Wilburn, a state representative from Ames, is the first Black chair of the Iowa Democratic Party.
Although he’s become accustomed to hateful comments as an elected official and party leader, “it’s important for people to know that this is not normal and it’s not OK,” Wilburn said in an interview.
Ames Police Cmdr. Jason Tuttle confirmed his department is investigating the threats, and Story County Attorney Tim Meals said his office has also been made aware of the incidents.
Wilburn authored an opinion piece titled “Iowa Republicans put loyalty to Trump over helping Iowans,” which the Des Moines Register published on its website Oct. 8 and on its print opinion page Oct. 9. The piece was timed ahead of Trump’s rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines Oct. 9. It was the former president’s first trip back to the state since he lost the election and a mob of his supporters swarmed the U.S. Capitol in January.
After the essay’s publication, Wilburn said he received two threatening phone messages and one threatening email to his legislative email address, which all made reference to what he wrote in the article.
“The voicemails include very explicit language. Every other word was the ‘n-word,’” he said.
Wilburn said he could not share more details about the contents of the calls because the investigation is pending. But he said he was compelled to report these instances of harassment, though he has received others, because of the “intensity” of the language.
“What stood out this time was the language that was used — specifically, the very direct statement about lynching,” he said. “And I get angry about that — that people feel that they can come in and make you feel less than human, subhuman, with that type of reference to lynching. There’s the history behind that and trying to intimidate Blacks, intimidate African Americans.”