U.S. Representative Mike Coffman, from Colorado, is drawing heat on social media after a town meeting scheduled yesterday was overrun with constituents, first prompting him to limit meetings to four people at a time, then duck out of the meeting before the scheduled time was complete, as reported by the Denver Post.
The congressman is said to “routinely” hold events where citizens can speak with him, one on one. On Saturday, when more people than usual and expected arrived at the Aurora Public Library, Mr. Coffman’s regular meeting schedule was modified, so that he was sitting with four constituents at once.
— Nelson Garcia (@9NewsEducation) January 14, 2017
Reportedly, even meeting with four people at once wasn’t enough to give all the residents of Colorado’s Sixth Congressional District a chance to express their views and listen to Mr. Coffman’s thoughts. A description with video of Coffman, tweeted by Nelson Garcia with 9 News, states “Mike Coffman sneaks out early from his own community event.”
Representative Coffman’s chief of staff, Ben Stein, explained that the congressman only booked the space at the library for 90 minutes, “which is usually plenty of time to see everyone.” One attendee cited a usual attendance of about 15 people, with about 100 still waiting to speak with the congressman before he left the meeting on Saturday.
@RepMikeCoffman CHICKEN… Leave your constituents rather than face them on ACA repeal. You are a real douchebag.
— Doug Fromel (@DougFromel) January 15, 2017
@RepMikeCoffman Your job is to listen to your constituents and represent their interests. Not your agenda or ideology. We are mad as hell..
— DUDLEY DORIGHT (@JESSE5204) January 15, 2017
Mike Coffman and other Colorado Republican members of the House of Representatives published an opinion piece in the Denver Post on Friday responsible for the swelling of ranks at the Saturday meeting. Constituents unable to speak with the congressman chanted “this is what democracy looks like” and sang “America the Beautiful,” after it became clear their voices would not be heard that day.
“Health care isn’t affordable or accessible when the cheapest plan comes with an average deductible of more than $6,000, which is what people in the individual market will see this year,” the op-ed reads.
Other Colorado Republican representatives responsible for the Denver Post piece include Doug Lamborn, Ken Buck, and Scott Tipton. The group holds up six million Americans choosing to “pay a fine to remain uninsured,” rather than enrolling in a plan as a sign of that it is fundamentally flawed.
The group of Republicans takes issue with the fact that under the current Affordable Care Act, many Americans have only one insurance company to choose from, with premiums of comparable value to a “mortgage payment.” Fourteen western Colorado counties are reported to have only one choice of insurance company, while 16 counties in the south and east have populations that will see average premiums increase by more than 40 percent, in 2017.
“I am going to lose my health insurance,” a Colorado resident said of the planned repeal of the Affordable Care Act, before breaking down in tears, as hosted by Ellen Mackey with YouTube.
Stein apologized to those left disappointed on Saturday, promised that more time would be made available at upcoming meetings, and encouraged those who didn’t have a chance to speak with Representative Coffman to return.
Before leaving the library out of a side door, local police were reported to have cordoned off the area to keep residents from talking to the politician or his aides. When he emerged from the library, Coffman was the recipient of jeers from a group of “frustrated” observers who questioned why the representative wasn’t listening to everyone’s questions, before he sat down in a waiting car.
Some of those gathered at the meeting were under the impression that the event was a “town hall,” where a large group would participate. Ben Stein explained that representative Coffman typically meets with residents one on one, or in small groups, one at a time.
[Featured Imaged by Alex Wong/Getty Images]