Police are investigating threats made against the state schools chief and the former Senate minority leader, according to Arizona Department of Education Chief of Staff Michael Bradley.
Bradley said Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas has turned over to police eight emails from eight people that could be construed as threatening because they were disturbing, personal and not political, although they did not include specific threats of death. The emails were not immediately available, but Bradley said he will disclose them soon.
He said former Sen. Leah Landrum Taylor, who is the department’s special projects director, received a threatening letter through the mail at her South Phoenix home in recent days and someone slashed a tire on her car today.
Bradley said the Phoenix Police Department’s Bias Crimes Graffiti Unit is looking into the matter, and the Douglas emails have been turned over the Department of Public Safety.
He said he is also working on improving security at the Department of Education building.
Taylor, a Phoenix Democrat, received a letter that was wrapped in a news article about her and Douglas. Scrawled on it were statements to the effect of black people selling out and it included underlined words such as suicide and death, Bradley said.
“This followed us having four meetings in two weeks with the black community and the NAACP to work together, and those were pretty public,” Bradley said.
Taylor left the Legislature this year after serving eight years in each chamber. She served as Senate minority leader until 2013 when Democrats ousted her.
Bradley said Taylor’s tire went flat as she drove to work and she discovered there was a slash on the sidewall, a sign that someone intentionally caused the damage.
Douglas, a Tea Party favorite during her primary and general election campaigns, drew fire for not being accessible to the press and not debating her Democratic opponent beyond the one debate required to receive public campaign funds.
She also created a stir Feb. 11 when she fired two State Board of Education employees and publically criticized Gov. Doug Ducey in a fiery press release for reinstating the employees.