When Sen. Tom Cotton finally conceded Donald Trump might have uttered expletives in speaking of immigrants, he indicated he wasn’t bothered. He’d been in combat, he said. He’s heard “salty” words. His staff apparently is much more sensitive.

Here’s a further account of a frequent caller to Sen. Tom Cotton’s office who was told by the office and Capitol police that he’d been sent a cease and desist letter (though he never received it) for saying “bullshit” to a Cotton staffer after failing to get in answer after 18 calls over several months about what Cotton intended to do to address the opioid crisis.


This was Don Ernst, a former aide to Gov. Bill Clinton. His story is told here on Talking Points Memo.

Ernst also talked at length about the episode on a podcast.

Ernst said he’d written a letter apologizing for his use of the word.

Ernst said he has a son battling opioid addiction, making Cotton’s stance on how to address the opioid crisis particularly important to his family.

The Arkansas resident told the podcast that he called Cotton’s office 18 times between February and June 2017 to ask for the senator’s position on the two issues, but staffers told him that the senator’s stance was not readily available and indicated they would look into his questions.

“It’s excruciating not to get an answer to questions that impact people you care about and you love,” Ernst said on the podcast.

Ernst confirmed to TPM that he called Cotton’s for months without getting an answer from the senator’s staff. He told TPM that he suspects that at times he raised his voice.

“Certainly, as each call happened, I think I began to get more emotional,” he told TPM.

But it was the 18th call that got him banned from phoning into the senator’s office again, according to Ernst.

On that call, Ernst told a staffer that it was “bullshit” that he could not get answers on IDEA and the opioid crisis, and he said that staffer abruptly hung up the phone. He called back immediately and a different staff member informed him that they would send him a cease and desist letter.

Cotton’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment.