Editors Note: this has been cross posted from the national blog, the DailyKOS with the author’s permission and originally appeared here.
Saturday afternoon in the suburbs — basketball games in elementary school gyms, chicken in the crockpot, and Democratic constituents being tossed out of their Republican congressman’s cozy Tea Party meet-up at Hanover Tavern. A group of concerned citizens showed up, when word about this event got out just hours before it started, because Brat has refused to answer their calls for a town hall meeting. At least one member of the group was able to get inside and video tape Brat’s speech where he laughs at women’s repeated requests for a town hall meeting.
Brat complained in his speech about women asking him for a town hall meeting, saying, “…since Obamacare and these issues have come up, the women are in my grill [big laughs from crowd] no matter where I go. And they’re saying…they come up — when’s your next town hall — and believe me, it’s not to give positive input.” [more crowd laughter]
One constituent got so frustrated that her repeated requests for a meeting received the runaround, she started a Facebook page for the sole purpose of getting an answer — 7th District Town Hall Meeting. This is taken directly from that page; it seems like a simple and reasonable question from a group of constituents:
“When is the next Town Hall meeting?” is not an accusation, it’s a question. Congressman Dave Brat, your constituents would like to hear from you. You ran on a platform that you would be more accessible and we could hold you accountable, right? We would love to hear more about things you talked about in this video. #AskBrat
Brat has a history of evading debate. One source, who has been covering local politics since 2014, said that in some instances it appears Brat sends notices to only a chosen few, announces to the local paper just before the meetings, and either puts up the wrong information or completely omits it from his Facebook page and website. Read DAVE BRAT’S FAKE TOWN HALLS.
The woman who shot the video footage of the meeting, and who wishes to remain anonymous, told me that she, “…was only hoping to talk to him in a social setting about ACA and its impacts to me. That didn’t happen….I also didn’t appreciate his bringing up churches — there is [supposed to be] a separation of church and state, and he was so wrong.” Early in the video, Brat asks for the attendees to:
“…help us organize those lists of churches – the good guys who are supportive — and help us message, and help us write newspaper articles. We’re getting hammered…right? The Richmond Times Dispatch, does anybody read [that] anymore? [crowd murmurs] It’s unbelievable….the other day they said they were going to pray for everybody. They are praying for Trump, and who was it…and Hillary. So there is a juxtaposition there, right? We’re going to pray for Trump and Hillary. And then we’re going to pray for Tim Kaine…and it should have been — me. And, instead, they prayed for Barbara Comstock up in Northern Virginia. [laughter] Right, and they do this intentionally. I’m not paranoid. It’s unbelievable, the things they put in that paper…”
Around the 12:30 minute mark Brat once again calls for mass support from church congregations. An anonymous source from inside the tavern said, “[Brat] wants us to get our churches to send lots of emails saying he is doing a great job. I was uncomfortable that my representative seemed to have a private viewpoint and a public viewpoint.”
At one point near the 14:00 minute mark on the video, Brat states, “I was in Israel…and, oh my word, just so you know — Israel is all pro-Trump….It’s a hundred percent.” He goes on to quote from the speech he gave while in Israel: “The problem in my country is two-thirds of the Jewish community in the U.S. is not necessarily pro-Israel. And I said, Harvard is anti-Israel 95%, and Yale, and Princeton, etcetera. And those three universities produced all the last presidents and they’re stacking the State Department.”
Heather Schwartz Nees had this to say about Brat’s comments, “ As the president of a Jewish congregation I am outraged…over his antisemitic remarks that Jews in America do not care about Israel.”
Brat continues by referring to Trump as a loyalty guy who is “ most loyal to…the evangelicals. He knows he got 40 or 50 million votes.”
A man who audiotaped Brat’s talk, was greatly concerned over his comments on healthcare, saying, “…[Brat] wants to abolish [our existing healthcare system] immediately including provisions covering pre-existing conditions, as well as children staying on their parents’ [policy] until twenty-six. I was horrified that he considers removing health care from 18 million people as a cost savings to the system.” Attendees were given a three-page handout focused on efforts to repeal Obamacare in its entirety, with a directive to contact the Heritage Action Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator for more information.
Another attendee said, “[Brat] sounded intimidated and afraid for his future in politics. He was telling his supporters how these women are organizing and pleading with his supporters to watch out for us.”
Chrystal Hall Doyle and another woman went inside to use the restroom and were stopped coming out of the restroom by a woman who asked, “Are you with the group outside? I need to get your name and number.” She then proceeded to follow them down a hallway, past tables with political fliers featuring AR-15 rifles. Doyle had to tell a man at one of the tables, “I feel like I’m being harassed,” before the woman stopped demanding her name.
Traci Franssen was with her sister when they heard Brat was about to hold a town hall meeting at Hanover Tavern. Not realizing it was a ticketed event, they went inside, “…the first table had DVDs with the story of how planned parenthood is supposedly trying to reduce the African American population. We browsed through some other pamphlets and then made our way into the theater to watch the speeches. We heard a speaker talk about the horrors of sitting next to an atheist liberal on a plane. Then a woman came in the door behind us and asked to see our tickets. I said I didn’t realize we needed them, and asked how much are they while reaching for my wallet. She replied that they had to be purchased in advance and guided us all the way to the door.”
Heather Schwartz Nees shot a video of the group of about a dozen protesters outside, waving to cars passing by, while the Patrick Henry Tea Party meeting occurred. She can be heard on the video saying, “Congressman Dave Brat is inside holding a private meeting with Tea Partiers and we are all constituents and we were all kicked out. We’ve been asking Congressman Brat to please have an open, public, town hall meeting — and he will not. He won’t answer us. He won’t answer our emails. He doesn’t answer our questions. All we want to do is talk to our congressman. He works for all of us.”
Kim Drew Wright