On a rainy Tuesday morning, February 21st, citizens gathered in front of Representative David Trott (R-MI)’s office to secure a meeting with his constituents and urge him to vote against legislation designed to repeal the Affordable Care Act. For the sixth time in as many weeks, constituents’ attempts to speak directly to their representatives have been rebuffed. Appeals for town halls were also denied, as Trott has not hosted one since April 9, 2015.
Michigan People’s Campaign and Michigan United, the principal organizers for the demonstrations, have worked in the 11th District and across the state to bring representatives face-to-face with their constituents, only to be ignored or provided with a form letter. The movement persists, because for many citizens, Trott’s support of the ACA repeal is a direct threat to their health and well-being. When contact is made with the Congressman’s local staff, it is typically through a cracked door, behavior most often reserved for unwelcome solicitors.
In response to calls for a town hall meeting, Trott is reported saying “If the purpose of the ‘new’ town hall is to be disruptive and draw attention to people’s concerns over the replacement for the Affordable Care Act or President Trump’s immigration policies, I don’t know that a town hall is going to be particularly productive, because I’ve heard those concerns.” To punctuate his refusal to face his voting base, Trott is one of 27 legislators providing the “largest ever” delegation to India during this month’s Congressional Recess.
One of the potential reasons these demonstrations are not receiving a response may stem from White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer stating that “protesting has become a profession now” and “a very paid, AstroTurf-type movement,” while drawing comparisons to the Tea Party, which he considers “very organic”. There have yet to be any confirmed reports of protesters receiving money for their actions.
Trott, who receives $174,000 in Federal tax dollars per year to represent the 11th District, believes “Most of the people demanding town hall meetings aren’t even from my district.” This Tuesday, several of his constituents gathered in front of his office, hoping for either a town hall or a direct meeting. The door was promptly slammed on them by local staffers.
Troy Police intervened on behalf of the staff, stating: “They don’t want you here, you’re being trespassed, you’ve been trespassed before,” citing that the building rests on “private property”. To date, there is no meeting scheduled between the Congressman and those he represents.