The Illinois man who opened fire on Republican Congressman practicing for the annual Congressional baseball game was a local gadfly obsessed with reforming the Federal tax code.
James Hodgkinson wrote a number of letters to the editor of his local paper in Belleville, Illinois, chastising members of the paper’s conservative editorial board for failing to address major problems with Republican tax policy, and citing liberal thinkers like Robert Reich and talk show host Rachel Maddow.
After learning the shooters identity, the Belleville News-Democrat reposted a number of the shooters letters, dating back to 2012, calling for major economic reform, and an incredible 55-bracket tax code.
“We need to bring our country out of today’s recession by raising the number of tax brackets from six to 20 or more and the top marginal rate of 35 percent on $380,000 to 60 percent on $20 million or more,” Hodgkinson wrote. “I have never said “life sucks,” only the policies of the Republicans.”
On another occasion, he outlined a full tax code reformation, that included a detailed breakdown of probable tax brackets, as well as income increases. “We need 55 brackets ranging from 4 percent to 63 percent. Anyone can look up the history of federal income tax rates on the Internet. Check it out.”
He also supported weed decriminalization. “I believe to stimulate the economy, it is time to legalize or at least decriminalize marijuana use,” Hodgkinson opined in the summer of 2012, just before the state of Illinois began considering the possibility. “Also to fund the government deficit I hope the Obama administration raises the income tax rate for the rich to 70 percent or more.”
Hodgkinson appeared, more recently, in the newspaper’s file photos, holding a one-man protest outside of Belleville’s city government buildings and the local post office, holding a sign reading “Tax the Rich.” On Facebook and in Tweets, he referred to Republicans as “racist” and “sexist.”
According to Sen. Bernie Sanders, who released a statement on the shooting late Wednesday morning, Hodgkinson was a volunteer on the Sanders Presidential campaign.
But even in the midst of Bernie’s popularity, Hodgkinson was trying to push the progressive candidate on the tax code.
He wasn’t merely a policy wonk, however. Hodgkinson was known to local police for his history of violence. In 2006, he was arrested for domestic battery after he punched a woman “in the face with a closed fist,” and discharged a weapon in front of her boyfriend.
Police records, obtained by the Daily Beast, say Hodgkinson was also “observed throwing” an unidentified minor who turned out to be his daughter “around the bedroom.” When Hodgkinson’s own girlfriend attempted to leave the scene, he reached into her car, turned off the ignition and then sliced her seatbelt with his pocket knife.
Last March, just before he relocated to Virginia, police were called to Hodgkinson’s residence after he reportedly fired 50 rounds into the woods near his home.
On Wednesday, Hodgkinson, hunkered down near a DC softball field and shot at Republican Congressmen who were holding a practice for the annual Congressional baseball game. One member of Congress, Rep. Steve Scalise, was wounded, along with two aides and a pair of Capitol Police officers.
Hodgkinson was shot at the scene and later died from his injuries.