TYLER, TX (KLTV) - A group of demonstrators gathered Tuesday on the square in Tyler to push for immigration and health care reform.
The group goes by Indivisible of Smith County and called for a town hall meeting with Rep. Louie Gohmert.
Gohmert was speaking during a lunch at nearby Jack Ryan's during the demonstration. He responded Tuesday afternoon, issuing the following statement:
The communication below is being sent to those constituents who have demanded a public town hall meeting mainly for the purpose of letting the Congressman know they want to keep Obamacare.
Dear Fellow East Texans:
Thank you for your recent request to my office for a town hall meeting. Having traveled the entirety of our district so many times during my time in Congress, doing thousands of events and public appearances, such as veterans' ceremonies, hospice medal presentations, church sermons with meet/greet, job site tours, charity dinner talks, public hearings, speeches to big groups/small groups with question/answer time, constituent meetings, media interviews, op-eds, constituent phone calls, ribbon cuttings, business forums, job fairs, district art competitions, school assemblies, classroom caucuses, flag presentation ceremonies, VA clinic visits, business openings, environmental field hearings, chamber banquets, judicial conferences, farming symposia, rodeos, town meetings, big/small town hall meetings, tele-town hall meetings, as well as constituent meetings when in Washington, I feel confident there are very few voters who pay attention in the 1st Congressional District of Texas who don't know exactly where I stand on the issues and why—especially regarding the issue of Obamacare. In fact, in November, over a quarter of a million people were polled, and 73.9% said they agreed with me. I made clear for the last seven years that I would do all I could to repeal Obamacare. I was one of the few who read it before I voted.
Unfortunately, at this time there are groups from the more violent strains of the leftist ideology, some even being paid, who are preying on public town halls to wreak havoc and threaten public safety. Threats are nothing new to me and I have gotten my share as a felony judge. However, the House Sergeant at Arms advised us after former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot at a public appearance, that civilian attendees at Congressional public events stand the most chance of being harmed or killed—just as happened there. One Congressional friend had one of his district staff members knocked unconscious and hospitalized this past week after being overrun by a group intent on physical confrontation and disruption.
In the same amount of time it takes to have a town hall meeting, which usually has between 30 and 100 attendees in east Texas, I can communicate with thousands of my constituent bosses through a telephone town hall meeting. This technology allows the inclusion of our disabled and more elderly seniors who have opinions but who could not otherwise come to an actual town hall meeting and ask questions. The telephone company assures us that all of the people participating on our telephone town halls live right here in east Texas and I will have likely have had over one hundred thousand people in our district participate by the time I finish this new round. Then, when the threat of violence at town hall meetings recedes, we can go back to having the civil town hall meetings I've had in the past to supplement the masses reached in our telephone town halls.
I very much appreciate hearing from the most vocal who form part of the very important twenty-six percent who disagreed with my seven year position on Obamacare, and I really believe that if we do the right things after repealing Obamacare, that even most of those who like government control of their lives in Obamacare, will acknowledge that things are better with more personal choices at a lower price, and without the massive cuts to Medicare and our seniors' healthcare that Obamacare inflicted.
Just this past week I have had two telephone town halls which included asking questions of constituents and getting those polling results that are absolutely consistent with the ultimate poll that was taken on Election Day just three and a half months ago. It should not be surprising that thus far, the results on the most politically sensitive issues show that the views I have been standing firm on are consistent with the 74% of voting east Texans that believed in November that I best reflected their beliefs and wishes.
We have also noted that a manual from one of the groups demanding town halls so they can disrupt them with agitators, suggested such underhanded motivations such as:
"Stall the Trump agenda by forcing them to redirect energy away from their priorities."
"A day they spend worrying about you is a day that they're not… preparing a Muslim registry." (By the way, I do not support a "Muslim registry"!)
"Tactics for these events may be similar to more traditional protests, where you're trying to shift attention from the scheduled event to your own message."
Statements like this in their community organizing materials are not "non-partisan," as they their playbook tells them to claim that they are. Some public town halls from this particular group recently boasted having agitators even come in from other states to cause havoc. I understand you personally do not want violence, but just want to be heard. I hear you. As a servant of east Texas, your input continues to be vital to me. That's why I put over 80,000 miles on my car in about two years repeatedly getting to every part of our east Texas district.
So, thank you very much for your input. Though I am saddened if you are upset with my positions, they do appear to reflect a majority of east Texans' views but I will continue to monitor closely. Regardless, I sincerely hope this week that you will find joy in the faces of those you love.