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FBI visits blogger from Ozark MO at request from Rep. Billy Long's office

January 13, 2011|by Chad Plein, KY3 News | cplein@ky3.com

OZARK, Mo. — Clay Bowler says he had a peculiar visit this week.  He says an FBI agent wanted to know about any confrontations with U.S. Rep. Billy Long.

Bowler, a political blogger, attended Long's campaign events last summer and asked political questions.  He even followed Long to his car at times, hoping for answers on different topics.  He created a website named "Long is Wrong."  Bowler closed his website after Long's Congressional win in November and says he didn't have any contact with him since the summer.

"That's the great thing about America," Bowler said, "I can speak out about something, and as long as I'm not threatening that man's life, I don't deserve an FBI agent coming to my house.  Violence is no way to participate in the American, political-process.  It never was a threat to Billy Long, as far as Billy's life was in danger, it was just a crazy guy who believes in the American dream.  (I) still believe in the freedom's that were granted, and we're supposed to participate in this great experiment of American government."

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Bowler recorded the interview with the FBI agent on his cellular telephone on Tuesday.  Bowler promised not to publish the content, but keep it for his records.  KY3 was able to watch and confirm the FBI visit. 

Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott sat next to the FBI agent, although Arnott didn't say much except that Long's staffers gave Bowler's name to him.  Sheriff Arnott made contact with the FBI.  Arnott said Friday, he doesn't believe Rep. Long knew his staff mentioned Bowler's name to authorities.

Bowler understands, after the shootings in Tucson last Saturday, the FBI is trying to be proactive in finding threats, but he says he shouldn't be on any list.  Bowler says he would never do anything violent to anyone.  At the end of the recording, the FBI agent agreed that Bowler did not appear to be a personal threat to Long.

"(I) was really trying to have an influence on people through the internet; this great social media network thing," Bowler said.  "(I wanted) to see if I could make a difference and help the candidates I really believed in, who didn't have the money Billy Long had, and that was my purpose...  Crazy I know.   Then all of the sudden, I have FBI agents outside my house, all because I was trying to participate in this First Amendment Right... it's really sad."

A reporter made attempts to reach Rep. Long and members of his staff, as well as the FBI and Capitol Police.  Capitol Police held a meeting with elected officials in Washington, D.C. on Thursday to talk about safety.

The Greene County sheriff says he was with the FBI agent in Ozark because the investigation initially indicated Bowler was living in Greene County, not Christian County.

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