Rep. Steve Chabot’s (R-OH) town hall meeting was riddled with protests last night as voters voiced their frustration with the GOP’s focus on deep spending cuts rather than providing jobs.
Before the event began, dozens of protesters gathered outside the auditorium with shirts that read “Tax Wall Street. End the Wars. Public Investment in Jobs.” They held signs blasting Chabot’s votes on the Ryan budget – “74% Of U.S. Seniors Say: Hands Off Medicare” – and the debt ceiling – “Revenue, Not Cuts.” Chants of “Where are the jobs? Where are the jobs?” and “What do we want? Jobs! When do we want them? Now!” also broke out as constituents filed into the meeting. Watch video here:
Fearing pushback on issues like ending Medicare and corporate tax dodging, Chabot took an extraordinary step in order to prevent a possible “Youtube moment”: he banned constituents from filming the town hall. Outside the town hall were multiple signs reading, “For Security Purposes, Cameras Are NOT Permitted.” In fact, on at least two separate occasions, middle-aged constituents who tried to record the public event had their cameras confiscated and were asked to leave. Watch it:
Media were permitted to record the event, making the ban on citizen cameras all the more baffling. Clearly no “security” threat existed; rather, as one of Chabot’s staffers told ThinkProgress, they wanted to “prevent” people from “making a show” of the event. Indeed, Chabot and his staff were worried enough about citizens voicing their anger at his policies that they only accepted pre-screened questions chosen by the congressman’s staff.
As town halls continue across the country this month and more voters have a chance to speak out against the GOP’s insistence on slashing spending and eliminating jobs, other congressmen will face a similar choice: will they listen to citizens who demand Republicans address the jobs crisis rather than cutting spending, or will they silence constituents with camera bans and pre-selected questions?