Man accused of threatening Cleaver will remain in prison

Associated Press
The Kansas City Star

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A southwest Missouri man who is charged with threatening to kill U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver will remain in jail, a federal judge ruled Monday.

Kenneth R. Hubert, 63, of Marionville, was charged last week with threatening Cleaver, a Missouri Democrat who represents a district that includes part of the Kansas City area. He pleaded not guilty on Monday.

Prosecutors said Hubert left a voicemail Jan. 7 at Cleaver's office in Independence in which he used a racial slur and said, "How about a noose ... around his neck?" Cleaver is Black.

"Mr. Hubert, words have meaning," Chief Magistrate Judge David P. Rush told Hubert. "And your words rise to the level of posing a danger."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Casey Clark said Hubert has made similar threats to other politicians, a federal judge and political organizations dating back to 2014, The Kansas City Star reported.

In a motion filed before the hearing, prosecutors contended Hubert had a history of "complete disregard" for law enforcement, which had tried to stop him from making harassing calls. They contended he was a flight risk who could intimidate witnesses.

David Mercer, Hubert's public defender, argued Hubert has no criminal record, was not a flight risk and had medical conditions that would put him at high risk of contracting COVID-19 if he was jailed. Mercer said Hubert was willing to serve house arrest.

"It has definitely gotten his attention," Mercer said of Hubert's arrest.

Among other incidents, prosecutors said Hubert was investigated for making threatening calls to the Council on American-Islamic Relations in St. Louis; U.S. Rep. Steven Cohen, a Democrat from Tennessee; and the Missouri Democratic Party. 

Hubert told FBI agents investigating his call to Cleaver that he was also previously investigated by the U.S. Secret Service for saying President Barack Obama "needed to be hanged from a light post," according to prosecutors.