Frank Riggs and His Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day on Twitter




    Frank Riggs speaking at a gubernatorial debate hosted by the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Univision Arizona and ABC15 in July 2014. Photo courtesy Gage Skidmore

    A former California congressman who this year lost his second statewide race in Arizona in four years went on Twitter tirades against political gadflies and this reporter Sunday evening, during which he called critics “gutless punks,” “cowards,” “sniveling” and “trolls,” and belittled them for never having served in the military.

    This morning, Frank Riggs took his Twitter account down, apparently in response to questions from the Phoenix New Times about his online behavior. About an hour later, it reappeared, but with all of the tweets in question removed and replaced with a Veterans Day message.

    Riggs’ meltdown Sunday stemmed from the late afternoon reports on vote tallies for the day, which saw his Democratic opponent for superintendent of public instruction, Kathy Hoffman, declare victory after increasing her lead to  more than 46,000 votes.

    Shortly after that, public relations consultant David Leibowitz wondered on Twitter whether Riggs would attempt to run for another statewide office in the future. That prompted Riggs to lash out at Leibowitz and call him a “gutless punk” because he had never worn a military uniform or held public office.

    And that Leibowitz (and others) had the temerity to reference Riggs’ loss on Veterans Day led the Army veteran to continue his barrage of insults.

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    “You are a gutless punk who has never served, never run & never will… You’d never make it a week through boot camp or the police academy. You are a troll & coward,” he wrote to Leibowitz.

    Leibowitz responded that Riggs was a “narcissistic partisan() who mistake(s) self-serving campaigns for public service.”

    “That’s why you lose when you run – voters sense your self-importance and need to self-aggrandize,” he added.

    Riggs

    When Riggs said Leibowitz was a “physical and moral” coward because he was not a veteran, Leibowitz joked that, “if you weren’t a 68-year-old man, I’d actually offer to Indian leg wrestle you, or perhaps a steel cage match. But I’m sure that’s beneath your dignity.”

    Nothing was beneath Riggs’ dignity Sunday night, however: “Anytime. Punk. You will be embarrassed, big time. Just message me. You & your pasty ilk are welcome to join me @ 5 am for one of my daily workouts. Can you do a pull-up yet?”

    After Leibowitz sought to end the spat and “be the bigger man” by walking away from the argument, Riggs refused to relent.

    “You’ll never be the bigger man until you’ve walked in my shoes and put your life on the line,” he retorted.

    In one response, Riggs set his sights on two political gadflies who offended Riggs by “liking” one of Leibowitz’s tweets, accusing each of being of being a “punk & coward.”

    Riggs

    Scottsdale attorney Thomas Galvin, one of those Riggs challenged, rebuked Riggs.

    “Dude. I don’t know you. Leave me out of this. Your behavior is reprehensible,” he wrote.

    Riggs shot back, “Congressman to you, dude, & pot lawyer,” referring to Galvin’s work representing medical marijuana dispensaries.

    But Galvin got the last laugh Monday morning, after Riggs took down his account to scrub his Twitter meltdown.


    “Someone deleted his twitter account. Who’s the soft, gutless punk now?” he wrote.

    Riggs

    Jim Small
    Jim Small is a native Arizonan and has covered state government, policy and politics since 2004, with a focus on investigative and in-depth policy reporting, first as a reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times, then as editor of the paper and its prestigious sister publications, the Yellow Sheet Report and Arizona Legislative Report. Under his guidance, the Capitol Times won numerous state, regional and national awards for its accountability journalism and probing investigations into state government operations.

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