Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin joined his other cowardly Republican cohorts last week by refusing to host the town halls that traditionally take place back in their home districts during the February recess week. That didn’t stop 500 of his constituents from hosting a town hall about the Affordable Care Act. Week after week, Wisconsin voters have showed up at Sen. Johnson’s Wisconsin offices to ask for a town hall. At least one of those constituents has reportedly received a Cease and Desist letter from Sen. Johnson’s office, telling him/her they are “not to call or visit any of Senator Johnson’s staff or any of his offices at any time.”
At this time, not all of the details are known, but Citizen Action of Wisconsin says they got a copy of the letter from the banned constituent and that the voter may speak out in a media interview. And although Sen. Johnson's Facebook page is overrun with comments wanting more info on the “Cease and Desist” letter (and asking for a town hall), the senator’s office has been mum since the copy was released.
The statement from Citizen Action of Wisconsin about the letter and their interactions with Senator Johnson’s staff:
Dear friends, many questions are coming up regarding the "Cease & Desist" letter from Sen Johnson we posted yesterday. Update for you, the individual who received the letter is being connected with media sources and may be speaking on it. An individual, not Citizen Action directly, received this letter following a series of efforts to contact his/her elected official. While Citizen Action was not present for all of this individual's interactions, he/she like many of us have called numerous times, shown up numerous times, and sought to express their opinion on issues like healthcare repeal, corruption and education. We have also heard rumors that many more are also receiving these Cease/Desist letters. Thousands of Wisconsinites like this individual have joined Citizen Action to rally, call, show up and write to Sen. Johnson; we had multiple empty-chair town halls in the last week alone, where Johnson was invited and hundreds and hundreds attended. We believe that no matter what, this letter is a heavy-handed response to a worried constituent, especially when Sen Johnson has had such little face-to-face back-and-forth interaction with constituents himself. We will not "Cease & Desist" in our response to one of the biggest bait-and-switches in American history - that of taking away our healthcare when they promised no one would be made worse off - and we urge more people to contact their Members of Congress. Democracy needs a vibrant exchanges of ideas, your voice is needed now more than ever.
Whatever happened here, Senator Johnson and his staff should comment. If the voter in question crossed the line with staff, that’s one thing. If they are simply tired of a constituent exercising their rights, that’s another.
I’m more cautious about the validity of this letter after taking another look at the “full letter” at the original link. There seems to be a slight color change after the “Dear…..” line. Photoshopped? Stay tuned. I’ll update if/when the person who claims to have received this letter comes forward. I’m more dubious about it now. The story has been confirmed, see update below. Jen Hayden
The story is confirmed via CBS 58 in Milwaukee. The man who received the letter is Earl Good, a Vietnam veteran who says he’s just trying to has called and called because nobody picks up:
“The reason I reached out to Ron Johnson, I disagreed with several of the cabinet appointments that were made, and I was concerned about the Affordable Health Care Act, privatizing the veteran’s administration, the Russian hacking,” says Good.
He started calling Senator Johnson's D.C. office to voice his opinion after President Trump's inauguration. He says his goal was to influence how his U.S. Senator votes. Good admits he's persistent; so persistent, on one occasion he called Senator Johnson's office 83 times until someone picked up.
"The day before was 40 to get through. The day before that was 8. The day before that was 29, so they’re very aware of who I am by my cell phone number,” says Good.
After days of silence on the story, Johnson’s office finally responded to WDJT:
A spokesperson for Senator Johnson responded, saying, "Constituents are always welcome and encouraged to contact our office with their concerns, regardless of political viewpoint. Unfortunately, very infrequently a pattern of inappropriate behavior emerges that crosses the bounds of decency and requires action to ensure the well being of visitors to the office and staff."
They added it has only happened twice in two years. It still seems like an extraordinary step to take for someone who claims he kept calling because nobody answered.