A local blogger who was critical of Rep. Billy Long during last year’s congressional campaign has been interviewed by the FBI about his encounters with the congressman.
Clay Bowler, who lives in Christian County, says he was shocked to find an agent from the Federal Bureau of Investigation at his doorstep. Accompanying the agent was Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott.
The agent asked Bowler if he was a threat to Long, a notion Bowler finds laughable.
“I’m not a threat to Billy Long,” Bowler said Thursday. “I find the whole thought very funny, because I’m such an advocate for constitutional rights that I would never do anything that would put in jeopardy those constitutional rights like the Second Amendment.”
Bowler published a blog in 2010 — Long Is Wrong — and said he campaigned against Long because he didn’t think the Springfield businessman would be a good representative for southwest Missouri. Bowler took down the site after the November election, when Long defeated Democrat Scott Eckersley to replace outgoing Rep. Roy Blunt.
Bowler acknowledges confronting Long as some campaign events, but says he did not threaten Long.
Bowler was puzzled why Arnott accompanied the FBI agent. Arnott is sheriff of Greene County. Bowler lives several miles into Christian County.
“Our first information was that he lived in Republic,” in Greene County, Arnott said.
Christian County Sheriff Joey Kyle was apparently unaware the FBI was in his county, interviewing a person who’d been flagged as a potential problem to a sitting U.S. congressman.
Bowler isn’t the only local person under federal investigation. Arnott confirmed to KSPR News that Bowler isn’t the only local person who’s been scrutinized in the wake oflast weekend’s shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Gifford (D-AZ) during a meet-and-greet with constituents in Tucson, Ariz.
Arnott said U.S. Capitol police canvassed members of Congress to come up with a list of people across the country who might be considered potential threats to members of Congress. It’s up to local law enforcement to protect members of Congress when they return to their home districts.
Bowler, an avowed conservative, says the FBI visit was cordial. He videotaped the encounter and said the agent was polite throughout the brief encounter.
But Bowler says the FBI visit left him shaken.
“I don’t sit 24 hours a day, seven days a week, thinking about Billy Long,” Bowler said. “I stopped going to campaign events in September where Billy attended.”
Bowler said law enforcement told him he’s not considered a threat to Long.
Long office did not return a request for comment.
Arnott spoke about the interview on radio station KSGF Friday.
Ron Davis Senior Producer
5:28 p.m. CST, January 13, 2011