In October Robin Hiller, executive director of Voices for Education, sent an email to her mailing list with the subject line, “Protest DeVos/Trump/McSally Monday.” The email asked people to attend a “Public Education Rally” in front of Rep. Martha McSally’s office Oct. 9.
The day before the rally, Hiller received the following email in reply.
Love em all !!!
Great Americans !!!!
You and big bird burned public education to the ground,
Made Americans morons again !
Fire all the teachers union employees and members.
We are coming for you !
The sender’s name was Chris Bannon.
“At first I thought it was a joke,” Hiller said. “I looked at the name and wondered if it was someone pretending to be Steve Bannon but didn’t know his first name.” She forwarded the email to a friend who thought it sounded ominous, especially the threatening last line, “We are coming for you!”
Hiller took a closer look. She hadn’t heard of Chris Bannon, but she recognized his email address as belonging to the University of Arizona. She googled his name and found he was connected with UA’s Biosphere 2.
Chris’s brother Steve Bannon, one-time chief strategist for President Trump and current head of Breitbart News, had been acting CEO of Biosphere 2 in the 1990s. Later, Chris became general manager. His current title at the University of Arizona is Development Officer, Economic Development in the Life Sciences department.
According to Hiller, she contacted the head of Chris Bannon’s department at the university, who in turn contacted personnel. Next, she called the office of her city councilman, Steve Kozachik. His office contacted the Tucson police department, which said it would have a police presence at the Oct. 9 rally.
Before the rally began, a police car pulled up on the sidewalk 50 feet away and remained there. The rally went on without incident.
Hiller received a call from the university telling her that because Chris Bannon’s email came from a university address, the matter was sent to the personnel office, but she would not hear anything further about it. I sent Bannon two emails asking if he wanted to clarify anything about the email he sent to Hiller. He did not respond.
Apparently, both Chris and Steve Bannon are fond of saying people are “coming for you.” Last month during a speech at the Value Voters Summit, Steve threatened senators who refused to condemn the anti-Trump comments made by Senator Bob Corker, saying the Trump loyalists wouldn’t forget. “Nobody can run and hide on this one,” Bannon declared. “These folks are coming for you.”
The brothers also have Breitbart News in common. Soon after Andrew Breitbart, the founder of the website, died in 2012, Steve took over as executive chair. In the following months, Chris wrote some columns for the site, among them one condemning “Hollywood Hanks,” usually known as Tom Hanks, for being the executive producer of the HBO film, Game Change
—Chris said it created an unfair characterization of Sarah Palin—and another column rhapsodizing about the “Brief, Shining Moment” when Andrew Breitbart and Sarah Palin, those “two giants of a great American movement,” met.
Steve Bannon came to Arizona recently to endorse Kelli Ward’s run for Senator Jeff Flake’s seat during her campaign kickoff in Phoenix. He's scheduled to be in Tucson Nov. 18, when he'll accept the Brian Terry Courage in Journalism and Reporting Award.