House arrest ordered for man who threatened Dem during healthcare fight

A man who threatened to paint Michigan's Mackinac Bridge with the blood of former Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) during the healthcare reform debate has been sentenced to house arrest.

Russell Hesch, 74, was sentenced Thursday in Bay City, Mich., to six months of house arrest, according to reports. Hesch and his son, David, sent a threatening letter to Stupak and his family warning him not to support the healthcare reform bill.

"I will paint the Mackinaw Bridge with the blood of you and your family members," stated the letter Russell Hesch sent to the Stupak family, according to the complaint.

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The filing say Hesch has dementia and was drinking alcohol when he composed the letter to Stupak. Though he dodged a prison sentence, Hesch was hit with $47,000 in financial penalties, which will serve as restitution to the U.S. Capitol Police for security.

At the time the threat was made, Stupak led a coalition of Democrats threatening to scuttle the healthcare bill over fears it would provide federal funding for abortions. To win them over, President Obama issued an executive order that said the healthcare bill would not change existing law preventing federal funds from going to abortion services. 

Stupak, now a partner at the law and lobby firm Venable, received a flood of threats during the healthcare debate. At the time, he told The Hill the experience was a “living hell.”

In spite of the numerous threats he received, Stupak voted in favor of the healthcare law. He did not seek reelection in 2010.

During the controversy, Stupak advised the FBI that Russell Hesch was "one of his historically most vocal and critical constituents," according to the federal complaint. Federal prosecutors later issued a criminal complaint against David Hesch for his role in the threat.

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