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Rep. Lewis Staff Stonewalls Constituents On Meeting

Free Button: Daily News
Free Button: Daily News



Renita Fisher has been asking for a meeting with Rep. Jason Lewis since January. She’s called, emailed, texted, posted on Lewis’ Facebook page, tweeted and visited Lewis’ congressional office in Burnsville with some regularity in hopes of having a face-to-face meeting or even a response that wasn’t a form letter about some of the issues she’s concerned about. Those issues include Lewis’ vote to repeal Obamacare and his refusal to have a pre-announced town hall meeting that’s open to the public.She and other members of the Indivisible Resistance of Eagan Burnsville (IREB) are convinced Lewis is stonewalling and has no intention of meeting them. Lewis’ staff says the group is on a list for future meetings he will hold. “There is no list,” says Fisher.Video of IREB’s meeting with Lewis’ staff on Aug. 8 shows the frustration Fisher has been facing. In the video, two Lewis congressional staffers are seen deflecting questions about when the group can meet with their congressman.Asked why Lewis was willing to meet with employees of Prime Therapeutic but not them, a staffer replies, “Yeah they invited us to do an employee town hall meeting and … yeah.”“Wouldn’t that be a business meeting if that’s not open to the public? If it’s only the employees of that business?” asked a Lewis constituent who was recording a video of the conversation.“Ah.. it was an employee town hall they invited us to and … yeah,” says the staffer.“Can you show us the schedule when he’s going to meet with us?” asks one of the IREB members.“We don’t disclose the schedule,” says the staffer, prompting laughter from IREB members.Lewis has done “tele-town halls” but Fisher says even those are not really advertised to the public. “If I do know about a town hall it’s because somebody posted something on Facebook because somebody got a secret handshake invite.”“We are getting frustrated. And when people are frustrated this is what you get,” Fisher tells Lewis’ staff. “You get this anger that’s building up, and we aren’t angry people. We’re just frustrated. We have questions. We have concerns. But Jason won’t listen. And we’re getting to that point where if he won’t listen it leaves us with very little choice but to keep coming. And we will keep coming, and coming, and coming and talking about why we can’t get heard and asking for a town hall. ““It’s becoming a never-ending cycle of coming and getting the same response. ‘He’ll see you in January. He’ll see you in February. He’ll see you in March. He’ll see you in DC. He won’t see you.’”The staffers then say they’re listening for Lewis and will pass along the group’s comments. Fisher says to tell Lewis that the group feels they are being stonewalled.“I’m just wondering if you can get out his schedule book and put us down for a time?” asks another member of the group.“No,” replies the staffer. “I’m not going to get out a schedule book right now. But like I said, you guys are on the list of dozens of other organizations.”“Can we see the list? You don’t have to show the ones above us. You can cover over those. Can we see our name on the list? ““No,” replies the staffer.Lewis responded to the IREB visit on Facebook — not by addressing the issues IREB raised, but by complaining that the group violated “well-established security rules” at the office. That violation apparently was recording video of the meeting despite a sign in the office that says “office policy prohibits unauthorized use of cameras or recording devices.”Lewis spokesperson Stephen Bradford said the policy is for the protection of the staff and asked that we blur the faces of the staffers in the video because the staff has a “reasonable expectation of a right to privacy and their explicit denial of consent to be filmed.” He also said they “felt intimidated”.As far as being inaccessible, Bradford says Lewis “has been crisscrossing the district talking to families in the Second District and hearing their concerns as often as he’s been at home. When there are votes in D.C. he’s spoken by phone to thousands more folks.”Lewis also complained on Facebook about an unrelated group that visited his home in Woodbury to protest congressional Republican attempts to cut Medicaid. A group of about 20 people organized by TakeAction Minnesota delivered a letter to Lewis’ home and then chanted when no one answered the door. They live-streamed their video of the visit.Lewis said the visits were “dangerous targeting of people, staffs, associates and now families.” He said that “must stop. And stop now.”Fisher said Lewis was trying conflate IREB’s office visit with the TakeAction home visit and called it a “veiled attempt to muzzle” First Amendment rights and that “if there was any ‘fear or concern” by (Lewis’) staffers, that is no way evident in what was recorded.” She said that Lewis’ home is “sacred and deserving of respect.”


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