We've seen reports that at least two more Republican members of Congress -- Reps. Lou Barletta (R-PA) and Renee Ellmers (R-NC) -- are avoiding public constituent meetings this August recess, opting instead for the "pay per view" events Michael wrote to you about last week. This new "pay per view" practice mocks the spirit of Democracy and the First Amendment, and tends to weed out non-supporters in order to shield members of Congress from criticism or even challenging questions.
Speak out now by signing our petition to members of Congress -- help us keep the heat on these representatives to hold them accountable and make them stop.
By voting for policies as unpopular as the ones congressional Republicans have recently supported, like ending Medicare and Medicaid as we know it, it's understandable that these representatives would attract some criticism, but denying their constituents free access to them so they can cravenly hide from that criticism is wrong. -- Ben Betz, Online Strategy Manager
From: Michael Keegan, People For the American Way
To: Ben Betz
Date: Thursday, August 18, 2011
Re: Pay-Per-View Government?
It seems that congressional Republicans either have a severe distaste for, or a severe lack of understanding of, the First Amendment of the Constitution.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) is not holding any open-to-the-public town hall meetings in his district this August recess -- instead, he's charging constituents $15 for face time with their democratically elected representative. And Ryan isn't the only member of congress whose recess meetings are, as Politico put it, "strictly pay-per-view."
Speak out by joining our petition to members of Congress now and help us draw attention to this growing problem.
Congressmen like Ben Quayle (R-AZ) and Chip Cravaack (R-MN), instead of hosting town hall meetings, are having events hosted for them by friendly organizations with a fee for attendance. These Republican members of Congress are so desperate to shelter themselves from criticism that they are denying their constituents' basic democratic access to their elected officials.
The First Amendment states that Americans have the right to "petition the Government for a redress of grievances" and does NOT include the words "only if they are willing and able to pay for that privilege."What Ryan and his colleagues are doing is an affront to American democracy AND to the First Amendment.
Exercise YOUR First Amendment right and petition Congress now.
Selective disregard of the Constitution by the Right Wing is nothing new, but this latest wave of hostility to the First Amendment is so cowardly and begs for a light to be shined on it and for accountability for the elected officials engaged in it.
Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) recently had a sign reading, "Private Property: No soliciting, No protesting, No loitering," appear outside his district office. This was in response to protests by progressive activists after Lamborn referred to President Obama as a "tar baby." However, the restriction appeared not to apply to Lamborn's supporters who held a "spontaneous" rally outside the office on Friday.
The "no protesting" portion was removed after Lamborn received pressure for his selective allowance of free speech at his congressional office and his blatant disregard for the spirit of the First Amendment. Now we need to make sure all members of Congress are receiving similar pressure.
Help us keep up the pressure by speaking up and joining PFAW's petition now.
Since voting on many anti-middle class policies, especially the "Ryan Plan" attacks on Medicare and Medicaid, Republican members of Congress have been facing angry constituents at town hall meetings and protests at their offices. That's called democracy -- elected officials being held accountable by their constituents.
By outsourcing meetings to third parties that raise money on the events, members of Congress are ducking all but their most supportive constituents, and in some cases, creating a misleading media narrative by allowing in local reporters and TV cameras.
If these Republican members of Congress are so scared of Democracy, then they're in the wrong business.
Please help us keep the pressure on by joining our petition and then by helping to spread the word.
As always, thank you for all you do.