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Democrat group sets Gohmert town hall — with or without him

By Glenn Evans
April 14, 2017 at 11:23 p.m.

State Rep. Louie Gohmert speaks during the grand opening of KEDC's new Advanced Technology Center Friday, April 17, 2015, in Kilgore. (Les Hassell/News-Journal Photo)

The congressman from Northeast Texas has refused to attend a Tuesday town hall meeting in Longview, citing suspicion of the "very small group of liberal activists" inviting him.

The leader of the Democratic Women of East Texas nevertheless said the town hall will go on at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Longview Community Center — with or without seven-term U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler.

"Not to worry — we have Louie in his own words," Democratic Women Chairwomen Mary Lou Tevebaugh said. "We really would like to have him and have him answer questions. But, if he's not going to be there to answer questions, we are ... looking through national materials that he has provided throughout his career."

That is, she said, when a topic arises on Tuesday, it's likely the congressman has addressed it on Fox News, Sean Hannity's radio show, in a floor speech in the House or elsewhere.

Gohmert, who routinely accepts congressional recess invitations to speak to Rotary or Republican groups, issued a statement in response to the Democratic Women's invitation.

It reads, in full:

"We have 12 counties in our district, and I will continue to be in different towns each day. I'm keeping every one of my scheduled events all over my district and haven't missed one of them. This very small group of liberal activists is following their national so-called 'Indivisible' playbook perfectly in their avowed attempt to intimidate their member of Congress and distract him from keeping his promises. But it is not working here. The only thing 'missing' with this little group is solutions that work.

"Three-fourths of my district still want a change from the destructive policies of Barack Obama's eight years that this group continues to embrace. That also means I am not canceling prior commitments to attend whatever distraction this disruptive group scheduled."

Tevebaugh said she began seeking an audience with Gohmert on Feb. 24, though that was in her role as a Social Security disability attorney.

"I said, 'I will have a meeting here with him in-district or will fly to Washington, D.C.,' " she said. "I know I represent many, many people in his district that are on Social Security disability or are attempting to get on Social Security disability. ... But he won't talk to me."

She said she reached out for the Democratic Women of East Texas on April 5 and was told to make a formal request. She did that April 7, she said.

Gohmert's spokeswoman, who supplied his statement, did not reply to follow-up questions asking what the Republican is doing Tuesday night or whether any events on his recess schedule are town hall meetings.

The News-Journal sent a request Friday for the congressman's recess appearance schedule.

Tevebaugh said Gohmert has been more accessible in the past.

"Several years ago, he gave me a tour of the White House," she said.

Gohmert previously issued a statement expressing concern for the public's safety at unruly town hall meetings. He cited former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was shot and wounded during a 2011 public appearance in Arizona.

Democrat Giffords publicly chastised Gohmert for using her career-ending ordeal as part of his rationale for avoiding public meetings in his district.

Tevebaugh said Giffords contributed a new statement that will be aired at Tuesday's meeting. She described it as generally urging elected officials to meet face-to-face with the people they represent.

"We're providing security (on Tuesday)," Tevebaugh said. "Because we want everyone to be safe — not just him."

She also disputed concerns Gohmert previously expressed about such events devolving into shouting sessions.

"I would insist that everyone be respectful of (Gohmert)" she said. "And if somebody would try to shout him down, I would hope he would respond to that. Instead of just turning and running, I would expect him to know how to face that. He's yelled at enough people. ... I was just looking at a clip of him yelling at another congressman.

"He needs to be a man — or a woman, because women can handle it better. He just needs to get back to what we're all about in East Texas, and that's standing up and being a leader."



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