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DENVER — District Attorney Mitch Morrisey has filed formal charges against Franklin Sain, who is accused of sending a series of harassing emails and voice mails to the sponsor of two gun control proposals, FOX31 Denver has confirmed.

Sain, 42, faces one charge of harassment and one charge of attempting to influence a public official, which is a felony.

Sain repeatedly used the N-word and the C-word in emails to Rep. Rhonda Fields, who is the sponsor of a bill to require universal background checks on all gun sales and transfers and another that would ban high-capacity magazines of 15 rounds or more.

In some of those emails and voice mails, Sain threatened to harm Fields, expressing his hope that someone “Giffords” her and co-sponsor Rep. Beth McCann, and threatening violence that “will make World War 1 and World War 2 look like childs play”, continuing that “many will be killed.”

The charges come as hundreds of people have filled the state Capitol Monday to testify on seven Democratic gun proposals.

Late Monday, Sain’s attorney issued the following statement about the charges:

Franklin Sain is charged with the crimes of “attempt to influence a public official” and “harassment-ethnic intimidation” based on the sexism and racism he expressed in emails to Representative Rhonda Fields. The emails he sent were admittedly despicable and disgusting. However, the issue before the court is not whether this speech offends our values, but whether it is illegal. The First Amendment permits horribly offensive communications, especially to politicians, as long as they contain no threats. 

Mr. Sain’s emails and voicemail to Representative Fields, while deplorable, were not threats.  As addressed in the Denver District Attorney’s press release, these communications are the only speech forming the basis of the charges against Mr. Sain.

Free speech is not easy and is often provocative. While the public is understandably aghast at the words Mr. Sain used, the Constitution allows people to be racist and sexist in their contacts with government officials in an effort to express their displeasure with them.  The Denver District Attorney should follow the lead of the Secret Service, which examined Mr. Sain’s vile and racist language toward the President and determined that it is protected speech. Because these emails and voicemail contain no threats, no crime has been committed, and we urge the Denver District Attorney to dismiss all charges.