Gay Penn. Senate candidate receives death threat

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Brett Burman, an openly-gay candidate for the Pennsylvania Senate representing the 9th senatorial district, recently received what appears to be a death threat from an anonymous source that he wants fully investigated.

Burman, 34, is a former healthcare consultant. He currently serves as chief auditor for Edgmont Township. He’s also a member of the Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee. He announced his candidacy in June 2019. The 9th senatorial district covers parts of Chester County and Delaware County. 

On April 30, a volunteer for Burman’s campaign texted potential supporters of Burman, seeking their support in the upcoming June 2 primary. One of the text recipients was supposed to be a woman identified as “Sarah,” but her text number was incorrectly recorded in the contact list used by the volunteer.

Instead, the text reached a different person who replied by indicating he would inflict gun violence on Berman. The reply text stated: “This is NOT SARAH!  My number is 20 years established, so don’t play mistake games with me. Brett Burman is a cocksucking fag, and a demonrat! Probably also voted for the gerrymandering of OUR state districts, that caused the loss of 3 Republican seats in 2018. He would ultimately become a reason, why we have the 2and [sic] amendment!”

Following the written content was a target emoji, a bullseye emoji, and an eye emoji.

Luke O’Connell, campaign manager for Burman, said the text was received on April 30 and Berman promptly reported the incident to the Pennsylvania State Police, Troop K, in Media, Pa. 

“The police have the text number,” O’Connell told PGN. “They’re attempting to trace it to the owner of the phone. We have the utmost faith in the authorities to handle this issue appropriately. Brett has been an outspoken proponent of common-sense gun reform and LGBTQ rights — which we fear is why the perpetrator chose the language they did in the threat.”

O’Connell added: “We have been increasingly concerned about this threat, in part because our senior staff is majority LGBTQ, myself included.”

Burman’s grandmother passed away on April 29 due to complications of COVID-19, and he wasn’t available to be interviewed for this story. But Burman issued the following statement: “While I was deeply disturbed by this threat, I will never stop advocating for my community and the reforms we need. Violence and homophobia have no place in our politics or our society. It breaks my heart that the LGBT community continues to face discrimination in all its forms. I thank my community by standing by me and my team during this difficult time.”

O’Connell noted that “Brett wants it made clear that threats against the LGBT community and LGBT politicians should not be taken lightly. We are awaiting the results of the investigation before deciding how to further proceed.”

Trooper Jessica L. Tobin, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania State Police, said in an email:  “The state police are currently investigating this case, and are awaiting confirmation into who the [phone] number belongs to, at this time. Once we receive this information, we will be able to conduct further follow-up with this individual. When new information becomes available regarding this case you will be updated.”

If he’s victorious in the June primary election and the November general election, Burman will be the first openly-LGBT candidate elected to the Pennsylvania Senate. Former state Senator Jim Ferlo came out as a gay man in September 2014, thus becoming the Pennsylvania Senate’s first openly-LGBT legislator.  State senators serve four-year terms and earn a base salary of $88,610.