Charges have been upgraded to a felony for a Chicago man accused of threatening a state representative over gay marriage remarks. Police say shortly after Stephen Bona, of Chicago, was charged with a misdemeanor for placing a threatening voice mail at Jeanne Ives' district office, he placed another call to her, leading them to change the misdemeanor charges to threatening a public official, a Class 3 felony. If convicted, Bona could face up to five years in jail.
Wheaton Police Chief Mark Field told the Daily Herald Monday that Bona was arrested and charged March 22, hours after Republican state Rep. Jeanne Ives, of Wheaton, reported getting a threatening voice mail at her district office.
"Your Tea Party brethren Sarah Palin put up a map that included the names, locations, and faces of Democratic candidates and put them in the cross hairs of a gun," the caller said on the voice mail, a recording of which Ives provided to the Daily Herald.
The caller went on to suggest that "perhaps we should do the same for you. We know where you live."
After Bona was arrested, a caller who identified himself as Bona left another voice mail for Ives, police say, leaving his name, address and telephone number, and noting that "for the record, I was charged with disorderly conduct following ... phone calls made to your office in response to your outrageous and personally disturbing comments about same sex relationships."
Ives, the caller said, caused him to "experience extreme disturbance and provoked a breach of the peace as a result of your comments." He pledged to "pursue every legal avenue to hold you accountable."
Ives has drawn heat for telling a Catholic Conference of Illinois radio show last month that same-sex marriages are "disordered" and couples are trying to "weasel their way into acceptability."
The freshman lawmaker's remarks come as Illinois House supporters are trying to push same-sex marriage onto Gov. Pat Quinn's desk. But they remain a number of votes short.
Ives later clarified that her comments were specifically about opposing same-sex marriage, not about gay couples in general.
Monday, Ives said she didn't regret her comments, noting "I know I speak for my district when I speak on that issue."
"I knew exactly what I was saying when I said it," she said. However, she acknowledged, "I probably could have used different word choices."
Immediately following reports about Ives' comments on the radio show, she said, she had gotten a slew of emails, Facebook messages and phone calls. Aside from the threat, she said, "it all died down in a matter of three or four days."
Bona did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
Wheaton police have placed extra protection in Ives' neighborhood block for the next week.