An Ohio bartender at House Speaker John A. Boehner’s country club plotted to poison him by putting something in his drink, blaming the top Republican for the spread of Ebola and various other problems, federal authorities charged in a recent indictment.
The bartender, Michael R. Hoyt, told authorities he was Jesus, Mr. Boehner was the devil, and said he blamed the congressman for getting him fired from his bartender’s job before he had a chance to poison the speaker. He told police he then planned to shoot Mr. Boehner and make an escape.
Mr. Hoyt self-reported those details to police after he concluded “evil people were going to “come chop him up,’” investigators said. They had him committed to a hospital for psychiatric evaluation, where he gave more details of his plot and of the reasons behind it.
Mr. Hoyt repeatedly blamed Mr. Boehner for the Ebola virus, and envisioned getting a chance to confront the speaker over it, including at a meeting attended by President Obama.
Police also found emails where Mr. Hoyt emailed Mr. Boehner and his wife, Debbie, telling them he “could have poisoned his wine at Wetherington, many many times.”
The plot was first reported by WCPO-TV in Cincinnati on Tuesday evening, though police had been investigating since Mr. Hoyt’s Oct. 29 call. Mr. Hoyt was indicted last week on charges of threatening to murder Mr. Boehner.
“The United States Capitol Police and FBI Cincinnati believe Hoyt poses a current and ongoing credible threat to Congressman Boehner,” Capitol Police Special Agent Christopher M. Desrosiers wrote in an affidavit filed in November, after the initial investigation.
“Hoyt advised that he often poured drinks for Boehner and could have already put something in his drink, but he did not. Hoyt stated that no one checks the drinks he poured for Boehner, and it would have been very easy to slip something into his drink,” the special agent said.
Authorities said Mr. Hoyt owned a .380 automatic handgun and an SKS rifle, and they found ammunition, a speed loader and a bullet hole in his home ceiling when they went to investigate. His mother said she had feared her son was becoming increasingly agitated, so she had secretly taken the rifle away from him.
Investigators also talked with Mr. Boehner, who told them he knew Mr. Hoyt but didn’t recall any bad interactions with the man.
“Speaker Boehner is aware of this situation, and sincerely thanks the FBI, the Capitol Police, and local authorities in Ohio for their efforts,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for the congressman, who just last week was elected to a third term as the top officer in the House.
Mr. Hoyt worked at Wetherington Country Club, where Mr. Boehner is a member, for more than five years.
He was treated for a psychotic episode two years ago, authorities said in their affidavit.
Mr. Boehner’s colleagues were stunned by the news.
“It’s terrible that something like that happened,” said a shocked Rep. Marcia Blackburn, Tennessee Republican and a close ally of the speaker. “I’m glad that the person responsible has been caught.”
Rep. Doug Lamborn, Colorado Republican, called it a “sad situation” that someone would plot against Mr. Boehner.
“The speaker, love him or hate him, he’s second in succession to the presidency,” he said.