Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) is known for being the only atheist in Congress. He's been actively involved in secular causes and, in many ways, has served as a hero for non-believers looking for representation at the federal level. Now, the congressman is, once again, in the headlines -- only this time for a far less-favorable reason. Alberto Torrico, a former California state lawmaker, is claiming that Stark became emotional and threatened him after learning that Torrico is planning to support his opponent.
Torrico, the former majority leader of the California State Assembly, claims that Stark, 80, melted down in anger when he learned that Torrico would be endorsing Eric Swalwell, a 31-year-old Dublin city councilman who is challenging Stark this fall.
"Probably, for the next five, ten minutes he lit into me. I don't think I said more than three words," Torrico claims.
The fiery congressman allegedly called Torrico, who had supported him over the past decade, "a turncoat" and questioned his mental health and Christian faith.
"He took the opportunity to say he'd come to my house and teach my children about the Christian faith because I couldn't," he continued. "From an atheist, I found it interesting."
National Journal says that the deriding didn't end there. Torrico, who left office in 2010, claims that Stark, pledged to "destroy" him politically if he ever chose to run for office again. He even purportedly said that he would attempt to prevent Torrico, who has a private law practice, from working again by contacting the trial attorneys association in an effort to disparage him.
"Basically after all that, after questioning my faith, after threatening to have my children taken away by social workers, after threatening my livelihood and questioning whether I'm still a Democrat...after questioning all of those things and threatening me he asked me to reconsider," Torrico alleges.
Obviously, Torrico is sticking by his choice, claiming that the alleged verbal altercation corroborated his decision to support Swalwell.
While this incident is not confirmed, this isn't the first time that Stark has lost his temper. Below, see him get more-than-heated in an interview about the U.S. National Debt (anger mounts around 4:10):
(H/T: National Journal)