The first time Rep. Scott Taylor met Wallace Grove Godwin was when the congressman found the man blocking his car in a Virginia Beach Town Center parking garage last year.
“We talked,” Taylor recalled Friday. “And I let him know that he’ll never do that again, and it’s absolutely inappropriate for him to do it.”
Godwin didn’t block Taylor into a parking space again. Instead, federal authorities say, Godwin went to Taylor’s Virginia Beach office Thursday while the congressman was out and threatened to kill him and two of his staff members after an argument over marijuana policy.
Godwin, who calls himself a “natural born conservative” and is strongly opposed to the drug, was arrested Friday and charged with threatening a federal official. He will remain incarcerated until at least Tuesday. A hearing is set for that afternoon in U.S. District Court in Norfolk, according to federal officials.
Godwin visits Taylor’s Virginia Beach office almost every week. He has only asked to talk about marijuana policy and has asked Taylor to deliver a letter to President Donald Trump for him, the congressman said.
This week, during Godwin’s visit, he got frustrated during a discussion with staff about marijuana policy, according to a U.S. Capitol Police agent’s affidavit filed with the court.
“Scott is having an event this Saturday. I am going to get my shotgun and do something about this. I will just handle this myself,” Godwin said, according to court documents.
He then pointed at two staffers in the room and said, “You two are next,” the documents said.
The threats followed two incidents in 2017 between Godwin and Taylor or his staff, the documents said.
In the parking garage, Godwin agreed to leave when Taylor told him to, the documents said. In the other, Godwin yelled at Taylor’s staff members at his Virginia Beach office.
Godwin is strongly opposed to marijuana legalization. He tried unsuccessfully last year to sue the government over “non-enforcement” of federal marijuana laws. In a lawsuit he filed without the help of an attorney, he sought $500 million.
“President Nixon ignored the Federal law on marijuana. Marijuana has been altering the minds of the American people since the early 60’s,” Godwin wrote. “Check my facts! This is the FACT!”
Last year, Taylor signed on to co-sponsor a bill to end the federal prohibition on marijuana use and allow states to set their own policies.
In a short initial court appearance Friday, Godwin answered a magistrate judge’s questions with slurred words and grunts. At one point, he tried to pantomime that he wanted the court to appoint a public defender to represent him in the case.
Prosecutors asked for Godwin to remain incarcerated out of concern for the safety of a witness and his alleged victims.
He has been charged with threatening to murder and assault a United States official, a count that carries up to 10 years in prison, though actual sentences are typically shorter.
“It is absolutely never appropriate to threaten violence on elected officials or their staff, or anybody, frankly,” Taylor said at a Town Center news conference later Friday. “People need to calm down and realize you’re not going to agree with everybody.”