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By: the Tax Free Insider

If a congressman holds a listening session and only one constituent shows up, is it a failure of participatory democracy or a fine example of the beauty of the democratic process?

Craig Gilbert, a political reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, kicked off the question this week when he tweeted this photo of Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner talking with Dave Mantz, the only person who showed up.

Went to GOP Cong. Jim Sensenbrenner’s town hall this morning in the Wisconsin town of Rubicon (pop 2,249) and just 1 constituent showed up. Dave Mantz had the floor to himself. The two politely discussed their differences on net neutrality … then discussed them a little more — Craig Gilbert (@WisVoter) June 4, 2018

Mantz was there to talk about net neutrality, a subject on which he and the congressman disagree.

Sensenbrenner has held 41 meetings with constituents so far this year, according to Gilbert. He’s one of the few Washingtonians still holding them.

“I went to his town hall in Hartford Sunday night that drew 22 people. His town halls in Neosho and Lebanon Monday morning drew four and one respectively, according to an aide, Gilbert writes.

Whether these things do any good at all in the age of big money is debatable.

And this one was held in a small town where people go to work during the day in a district that is about as safe for the incumbent as any.

Still, it feels as though there’s a disconnect between the non-stop political coverage of news organizations 10 weeks before a primary, and the willingness of potential voters to care about any of it.

By: Scott Shackford of Reason

Five years ago The Guardian published the first of what would be a bombshell series of stories about how the United States (and several other Western countries) were engaged in the mass surveillance of their own citizens, collecting millions upon millions of telephone and internet records.

It wasn't the first time the feds' saw some of their secret tech surveillance exposed—you may recall the revelation of AT&T's secret room 641A, for example—but now Americans got provided evidence of how far-reaching this surveillance was. It became very clear that the targets included all of us.

The name of the source behind the story was initially kept secret, but he soon revealed himself to be a government contractor named Edward Snowden.

Since then, Snowden has become a household name—even as he remains stuck in Russia, wanted on espionage charges in the United States. The Guardian and The Washington Post won Pullitzer prizes in 2014 for their reporting based on the documents Snowden provided.

Five years later, it's worth looking at the legacy of Snowden's revelations.

The Snooping Hasn't Really Stopped—But There Have Been Changes: Among the revelations that emerged from Snowden's leaks was how much of the surveillance was based on secret interpretations of federal laws. Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act allowed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court to grant the feds approval to secretly collect information from third parties during terrorism investigations. The Department of Justice turned out to have secretly interpreted this section of the law as an authorization to collect the metadata records of millions upon millions of Americans.

This interpretation was so far afield of the law's intent that Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), who crafted the PATRIOT Act, publicly denounced it. And released reports from the FISA Court indicated it sometimes was not fully aware of how extensive the federal data collection reached. Other courts subsequently ruled that this mass data collection was not authorized.

In 2015, Section 215 of the Patriot Act was set to sunset, and a pack of legislators—most famously Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)—moved to block it from being renewed. They succeeded, and it was replaced by the USA Freedom Act.

The USA Freedom Act did not, unfortunately, eliminate mass metadata collection. But it did set up actual guidelines that required government investigators to use specific search terms when attempting to look at metadata in records collected by phone companies. The new law also called for annual reports that give Americans a sense of how much secret surveillance is happening. The reports are vague and incomplete, but they're more than we were getting previously.

Americans Learned What Metadata Is and Why It Mattered: When Snowden's leaks first started, President Barack Obama and many lawmakers insisted that "Nobody is reading your email." This became a mantra among those trying to downplay Snowden's revelations.

It was a deliberate attempt to distract from the reality that we were all leaving electronic fingerprints everywhere we went and every time we communicated with each other. The government was collecting all our metadata—information about where, when, and to whom we were communicating. They were collecting everything but the conversations themselves.

Back in the days of Ma Bell, we thought of "metadata" as simply information about who we were calling and for how long we were talking. These days we all keep huge chunks of information about our lives on our computers, tablets, and smartphones. Experiments have demonstrated that, based on just your metadata, observers can reconstruct a good part of your life and your relationships with others.

This realization about how much privacy we're losing via our metadata has played out as we worry about government track our social media use—and as we become more aware of the ways that police (and not just federal police) are trying to keep track of our behavior through such tools as license plate readers and facial recognition.

Efforts to Push Forward with Increased Tech Surveillance Get Pushback: Many citizens and even lawmakers aren't accepting the idea that every form of surveillance that the government demands is necessary. Some states have passed laws requiring police to get warrants in order to track cellphone location data. The question of whether this tracking violated the Fourth Amendment is now under review by the Supreme Court.

Senators have warned the Department of Homeland Security about using facial recognition software to scan Americans boarding international flights. In California, lawmakers are currently considering legislation requiring police to get permission from their local government before implementing new surveillance technologies.

But other officials keep pushing and pushing to implement more surveillance tech, even as the public resists. Immigration enforcers want access to the data the feds have collected. Officials want to use facial recognition systems when monitoring protests via drones, and to combine such systems with police body cameras. Police in Miami Beach are willing to cause massive traffic jams in order to scan everybody's license plates while searching people with warrants. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to use facial recognition tools on cashless toll roads to identify drivers.

There are stories every day about officials wanting to use technology for surveillance. While some of the news coverage may fall on deaf ears, Snowden's information has been valuable to help people grasp that whenever the government starts spying, the surveillance will probably be broader and deeper than they actually tell us.

New Encryption Fights Begin: Back in the 1990s, the feds fretted about encryption on personal computers. Their efforts back then to limit our access to encryptionfailed.

Fears of terrorism having given new life to that old fight against encryption. Officials want access to locked phones or other secured devices belonging to people who have allegedly committed crimes, but encryption makes it harder for law enforcement to get in.

For many officials, the public push has been to try to force tech companies to compromise data security by creating so-called "backdoors" that bypass tech encryption or to otherwise provide access on demand. In the wake of the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, the FBI had a court fight with Apple over its efforts to force the company to give it access to an iPhone in one terrorist's possession. While Apple resisted, the FBI managed to get access with the assistance of a third party. It turned out later that the FBI was deliberately looking for a fight to try to establish a precedent.

Privacy and technology experts have warned us over and over that compromising encryption means rendering all of us vulnerable to breaches from anybody who gets their hands on these encryption keys or figures out how to mimic these access mechanisms. Weakening encryption would make everyone susceptible not just to government snoops—ours or those working for malicious foreign governments—but to hackers with identity theft or other crimes in mind.

Many officials demanding an encryption bypass simply refuse to entertain the possibility that this would expose citizens to greater threats. Nor are they understand the ways Snowden's disclosures have made Americans more skeptical about giving them access in the first place.

But tech companies keep pushing for stronger mechanisms to keep users' data secure, regardless of the wishes of government officials. Snowden's own email provider, Lavabit, shut down in 2013 rather than comply with the government's demands for the encryption key that would let it access Snowden's communications. Founder Ladar Levison resurrected the company in 2017 with end-to-end encryption that makes it much harder for the government to force its way in.

The Trumpification of the Surveillance Fight: After Donald Trump became president, the surveillance fight took a strange turn. The FBI had gotten the FISA Court's authorization to snoop on Trump campaign aides in order to probe connections with foreign countries—Russia in particular. As the special investigation plays out, Trump and his supporters have decried the use of these secret surveillance tools against people close to him.

This could have been an opportunity to discuss how the federal government engages in secret snooping against the citizenry in general, how this could be corrupted for political purposes, and why that would be a good reason to limit the feds' surveillance powers.

But that conversation did not happen. Indeed, some of the people crying the loudest that the "deep state" is coming after Trump also believe that Snowden committed treason by exposing federal surveillance. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), a conservative lawmaker who frequently insists the FBI's investigation of the president is politically motivated, is a huge fanof government surveillance on you. He just doesn't like it when Trump's the target.

This preference for simply protecting Trump rather than having an actual surveillance debate became clear when Section 702 of the FISA Amendments came up for renewal last year. Section 702 is another law that's been commandeered for domestic surveillance even though its stated purpose is to fight foreign terrorism and espionage. During the debate over renewing it, civil rights activists and privacy-minded lawmakers tried to force reforms. But despite all the yelling about spying on Trump that was taking place at the exact same time, most Republican lawmakers (Nunes included) voted not only to renew Section 702 but to expand its ability to target Americans.

Utlimately, Snowden's biggest accomplishments were to bringing the surveillance debate to the forefront and to encourage tech companies to ramp up their encryption and other security efforts. In the July Reason, Elizabeth Nolan Brown explains how you can encrypt your own communications. The fact that strong encryption tools are becoming more available to average internet users is one thing we can all thank Snowden for.

By: The Courier

Legion to hold brat, hamburger sale Friday

The Waterloo American Legion Post 233 will be selling hamburgers, brat burgers, French fries and onion rings every Friday at the legion hall on State Highway 89. Food will be served starting at 4:30 p.m. and the bar opens at 4 p.m. Food carry-outs are available.

WAHS to hold beer, cheese tasting Saturday

The Waterloo Area Historical Society will be host a beer and cheese tasking event from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday, June 9 at the museum on Polk Street. Beer locally produced by Hubbleton Brewing Company will be served, along with locally produced cheese. There will be outside serving. Enter the museum parking area on South Monroe Street, or park roadside. Call 920-478-8015 for information.

Reeseville Fire Department to offer bingo Sunday

The Reeseville Fire Department will hold bingo night Sunday, June 10 at the Reeseville Community Center, 406 N. Main St. Doors open at 4 p.m. with the first game starting at 5:30p.m. Fifteen games will be played plus one progressive game. Food and refreshments are available.

Marshall library summer reading program begins Monday

“Marshall Rocks!” is the summer reading program at the Marshall Community Library. From June 11 to July 27, there will be painted rocks hidden on public property around the village for people of all ages to find. This community-wide game is intended to promote local places, getting outside and sharing. A special time for painting the rocks will be held at the library on Monday from 5 to 7 p.m. During the summer reading program, each time a person reads as book or completes a challenge, they will earn a prize. The first 20 finishers of all challenges will earn a wristband from Little Amerricka. More information can be found on the library’s website at

Reeseville Public Library to offer summer reading activities Monday

The theme for the summer reading program at the Reeseville Public Library is Libraries Rock. Sign up began June 4. There will be activities for children at the library every Monday from 4 to 6 p.m. and Thursdays from 1 to 3 p.m. Drop in to participate in crafts, contests and games.

Sensenbrenner to be in Waterloo Monday

Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner will hold a town hall meeting at the Waterloo Municipal Building at 9 a.m. Monday, June 11. It is an opportunity for constituents to discuss federal issues with the congressman.

Marshall Area Historical Society to meet Monday

The Marshall Area Historical Society will meet at 7 p.m. June 11 at the historical society building on Main Street.Marshall/Waterloo VFW Auxiliary to meet Monday

The Marshall/Waterloo Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary will meet at 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 11 at the Krause Langer VFW Post on South Monroe Street. There will be no meeting in July.

Holy Family Parish in Marshall to hold blood drive Tuesday

Holy Family Parish will hold an American Red Cross blood drive at St. Mary’s Church, Marshall, on Tuesday, June 12 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For an appointment call 10800-733-2767 which is 1-800-REDCROSS or visit Culver’s restaurant will present a free scoop coupon for all presenters and volunteers and there will be a $10 raffle prize. Volunteers for registration, canteen and recovery needed. Call Carol at 608-65-3142. Walk ins are welcome.

Relay For Life to meet in Waterloo Tuesday

The Relay For Life of Rock River will hold an informational meeting on Tuesday, June 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the Farmers & Merchants Bank, 201 W. Madison St., Waterloo. All team captains, team members, participants, and those new to relay can come and learn more about the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life. The event is for all the surrounding communities. There are teams from Watertown, Waterloo, Lake Mills, Johnson Creek, Lebanon and Reeseville. This year’s theme will be Super Heroes, but the most important Super Heroes are the cancer survivors. They are the whole reason why we do this event. The Relay For Life mission is to save lives, celebrate lives and lead the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, contact Kay Christian, event lead at 920-261-0077 or

Euchre offered at VFW Hall on Tuesday nights

The Veterans of Foreign Wars is holding Euchre on Tuesday nights at its hall on South Monroe Street in Waterloo.

MABA tour set June 14

The Marshall Area Business Association (MABA) will meet at 8 a.m. June 14 at the Columbus Community Hospital for a tour.

Jefferson County Area Retired Educators to meet June 14

The Jefferson County Area Retired Educators Association will meet on Thursday, June 14 for lunch at Lindberg’s By the River in Watertown. After a brief meeting, the program will be a tour of the Octagon House in Watertown. President Diane Fontaine and legislative chair David Hertel will be tour guides. For reservations, call 920-261-9637.

KJML to hold drone presentation June 14

The Karl Junginger Memorial Library will hold a free drone presentation on Thursday, June 14 at 6 p.m. It is open to all ages. Learn more about drones and experience a drone demonstration. A digital drop in will be held at 6 p.m. June 18. Get help with a phone, computer or tablet. No registration is required.

Veterans of Foreign Wars to hold cookout June 15

The Waterloo Veterans of Foreign Wars will hold a cookout on Friday, June 15, at its hall at 115 S. Monroe St., Waterloo. It will be held from 3 to 7 p.m. followed by the Waterloo City Band performance at the four corners starting at 7 p.m. A brat plate will be available for $5 and a hot dog plate for $3. A plate includes potato salad, chips and pickle. A brat is $3 and hot dog $2. Bowl of ice cream and strawberries will be $3 and there will also be a back sale. Proceeds go to the building of the veterans’ memorial.


WYSO to offer adaptive/challenger program

The Waterloo Youth Sports Organization in introducing an adaptive/challenger program for children with special needs. Registration for the adaptive sessions for 4K to fifth grade is coming soon. There is a $25 registration fee per child for summer session. Weekly sports clinics will be held June through August. For more information, go to the WYSO website at

Marshall Community Library offers Senior Meal Program on Tuesdays

Every Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. at the Marshall Library, volunteers will serve a nutritious meal to anyone age 60 or older. All are welcome to stay after lunch for games or other activities. Those who can may donate a few dollars towards this service, but it is not at all required to get lunch. This program is managed by the Sun Prairie Colonial Club, and funded in part by the Village of Marshall.

To make sure everyone gets served, the Colonial Club asks that you tell them 24 hours in advance that you will be attending the meal. Call by 11 a.m. on Mondays to 608-837-4611 extension 113. The Marshall library already offers free senior aerobics classes every Monday at 10 a.m., during which time the Marshall EMS does free blood pressure and heart rate checks.

Waterloo fire, rescue looking for volunteers

Waterloo fire and rescue is currently accepting applications for volunteer fire and/or emergency medical services personnel. At this time, the department is in need of people 18 and older. To be a firefighter, one needs to live within the Waterloo Fire Department’s response area. There are no residency requirements for emergency medical technicians. For more information, stop by the station at 900 Industrial Lane or call 920-478-2535.

Veterans collecting donations for memorial

The Waterloo American Legion Post 233 and the Veterans of Foreign Wars are collecting donations for a memorial at Oak Hill Cemetery. The memorial will include three granite stones to honor the service and memory of those who served in the Armed Forces from Waterloo. Donations can be sent to the American Legion Post No. 233, Humphrey-Wilson Post, N8661 Island Church Road, Waterloo, WI 53594. Donations are also being accepted for memorial bricks to be laid before the memorial. For more information, contact Larry Killian at 920-478-3697.

Marshall Scholarship Foundation Dollars has on-going fundraisers

The Marshall Scholarship Foundation Dollars for Scholars has an ongoing fundraiser with Amazon Smile. Amazon will donate .5 percent of a purchase to the Marshall Scholarship Foundation Dollars for Scholars when an order is placed using Amazon Smile. Log into Amazon Search and select Marshall Scholarship Foundation Dollars for Scholars and place the order.

Marshall resident seeking troop addresses

Pete Ponti, who has worked with both the Marshall VFW and American Legion, is seeking the addresses of local soldiers stationed overseas to send care packages to. Anyone with the address should contact Ponti at 608-655-3568. Ponti also reminds residents that bricks are still for sale in Marshall Veterans Memorial Park.

By: Craig Gilbert of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

RUBICON - Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner held a town hall meeting here Monday. 

It wasn’t raucous, stormy or packed, as many congressional town halls have been in recent years.

It was kind of the opposite, actually.

One person showed up. And he was pretty polite.

It was a first for me in more than three decades covering politics. By attending Monday morning’s town hall, 33-year-old Dave Mantz received an exclusive audience with both his federal (Sensenbrenner) and state (Mark Born of Beaver Dam) representatives.

Mantz was there to ask Sensenbrenner of Menomonee Falls about net neutrality, an issue over which he and the congressman disagree.

The two discussed their differences for a while before the conversation began to lag.

“OK, thanks for coming in,” Sensenbrenner told Mantz about five minutes after the 9 a.m. meeting began.

But nobody got up to leave because Sensenbrenner wasn’t due at his next meeting in the village of Neosho (population 574) until 10 a.m. 

“I am trying to think of other issues I can ask about,” Mantz said a few moments later to the three of us in the room with him.

Then he returned to net neutrality. 

Eventually, I joined in the conversation, which turned to the subject of town hall meetings.

Sensenbrenner is one of a dwindling number in Congress who hold regular in-person listening sessions. He held more than 100 last year. He has held 41 so far this year. I went to his town hall in Hartford Sunday night that drew 22 people. His town halls in Neosho and Lebanon Monday morning drew four and one respectively, according to an aide.  

“I expected there to be at least one other (person),” said Mantz, who designs plastic injection molds and said he has had trouble getting high-speed internet.

“I think it is important to do these, at least to make myself available,” said Sensenbrenner, whose district has historically been the most Republican in Wisconsin. Donald Trump carried the town of Rubicon in Dodge County by 62 points in 2016.

When I tweeted a note and photo about the near-empty town hall on Twitter Monday, it sparked a lot of amusement, but also some very divergent reactions. Some saw it as a failure of citizens to participate. Some saw it as democracy in action. Some saw it as a shining example of a politician making himself accessible even in the smallest communities. Some suggested holding town halls in sparsely populated places on a work day was a way of avoiding crowds. 

But Sensenbrenner has held meetings in much bigger communities, too. Some, in fact, have been raucous, stormy and packed, marked by protests and outcry over health care and other issues.

A meeting in Wauwatosa earlier this year ended in an outburst of chanting and heckling.

Sensenbrenner now typically begins his meetings with a gruff two-minute recitation of rules and warnings, as he did in Hartford Sunday night, where the crowd was larger but entirely civil.

“You may have heard some of these meetings have become contentious,” Sensenbrenner told his constituents there, before taking questions.  

“If at any time participants become rude or disruptive, I will immediately adjourn the meeting as there is nothing positive to be gained from continuing with a meeting that is disorderly. We can all disagree without being disagreeable,” said Sensenbrenner.

In Rubicon, Sensenbrenner didn’t bother repeating his rules to an audience of one. 

“I must not look too rowdy,” said Mantz.


By: Sophie Tatum of CNN

As some members of Congress sweat their town hall meetings ahead of upcoming midterm elections, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, seemed to have the opposite experience Monday: Only one constituent was in attendance.

At a meeting in the small town of Rubicon, constituent Dave Matz found himself commanding the congressman's undivided attention from his seat on a metal fold-out chair in the otherwise empty front row. The chosen topic of conversation, according to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter: Net neutrality.
The one-on-one encounter was noted on Twitter by the reporter, Craig Gilbert, who tweeted out a photo of the meeting.
"Went to GOP Cong. Jim Sensenbrenner's town hall this morning in the Wisconsin town of Rubicon (pop 2,249) and just 1 constituent showed up," Gilbert wrote. "Dave Mantz had the floor to himself. The two politely discussed their differences on net neutrality ... then discussed them a little more.
Sensenbrenner also held town halls in Neosho and Lebanon on Monday, which are all part of Wisconsin's deep-red 5th District. The congressman has represented the district, formerly numbered the 9th, since 1979, and has handily won re-election since then, sometimes running unopposed.
Sensenbrenner's press secretary, Christopher Krepich, told CNN there was also only one constituent present at the town hall in Lebanon on Monday, while four people showed up in Neosho.
"He feels it's important to make himself accessible to constituents from all parts of his district, even if the meetings in smaller towns don't draw huge crowds," Krepich said in an email.
According to Krepich, the Wisconsin congressman has held 41 town hall meetings this year.
"Last night, roughly 20 attended his meeting in Hartford," Krepich said.

By: Craig Gilbert of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

HARTFORD - Former House judiciary chairman Jim Sensenbrenner said President Donald Trump may pardon himself as he has claimed, but that, “I certainly would advise the president not to do it.”

Sensenbrenner said doing so likely would lead to an impeachment inquiry by the U.S. House. The Menomonee Falls Republican was a House impeachment “manager” or prosecutor during the impeachment trial of Democratic President Bill Clinton before the U.S. Senate.

At the same time, Sensenbrenner expressed impatience with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation during a town hall meeting in Hartford Sunday night, attended by about two dozen constituents.   

“Mr. Mueller has been working for over a year. He has spent $17 million. His (charge) was to look at allegations of the Trump campaign colluding with the Russians. He’s come up with nothing on that ... maybe the time has come to write a report, send it to Congress, let Congress and the public debate it and fold his tent and stop the meter from running,” said Sensenbrenner, who said that decision was up to Mueller, not Congress.  

Sensenbrenner told constituents at the meeting he agreed with the argument that the president can pardon himself.

“The president’s pardoning power is plenary, meaning it’s not subject to review by anybody,” said Sensenbrenner.

But the lawmaker said that, “If a president pardoned himself, the judiciary committee would probably be bound to hold an impeachment inquiry on that and decide what to do based on the testimony that was presented at the inquiry.”

(Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani also said in recent days a self-pardon would probably lead to impeachment).

Asked by a constituent about broad claims by Trump advisers that the president can’t be compelled to testify and “by definition” cannot obstruct justice, Sensenbrenner said those are issues that “the courts will have to decide.” 

In an interview Monday, Sensenbrenner said, “I don’t think he can obstruct justice criminally during his term of office,” but he noted there were impeachment articles based on obstruction drawn up against both presidents Nixon and Clinton.

“While the president is in office, the only way he can be called to account for allegations of obstruction of justice is through the impeachment process,” said Sensenbrenner, who has also participated in a number of judicial impeachments during his long congressional career.    

At his Hartford town hall, Sensenbrenner said a president “may blow off a judicial subpoena and may do what would be an obstruction of justice in a criminal way, and not be subject to the usual penalties for that. But in my opinion, both of them would be impeachable offenses.”

In a tweet Monday, Trump said, “I have the absolute right to PARDON myself but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?”

The president also asserted without elaboration that Mueller’s appointment was “totally unconstitutional.”

While Sensenbrenner voiced impatience with Mueller, he said he did not question the general legitimacy of his investigation.

By: Alex Gangitano of Roll Call

We’re all over Capitol Hill and its surrounding haunts looking for good stories. Some of the best are ones we come across while reporting the big stories.

There is life beyond legislating and this is the place for those stories. We look for them, but we don’t find them all. We want to know what you see, too.

Send tips, clips and all your hot goss to, tweet at us at @HeardontheHill or send them directly to Alex Gangitano, our Heard on the Hill reporter, at Here’s the word on the Hill for today:

Florida support system

After the news spread that former President George H.W. Bush was released from the hospital on Monday, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen sent best wishes to fellow Florida Republican Jeb Bush.

Hice’s anniversary 

Rep. Jody Hice posted a pun-filled note to his wife for their 35th wedding anniversary. 

Friendly reminder

Sen. Bill Cassidy's office likes to be correct. Politico reporter Dan Diamond spotted a sign informing the his office staff that “health care” is two words.


One person showed up to Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner's Town Hall on Monday morning, so that constituent had a one-on-one conversation with the congressman.

Staffer shuffle

PwC announced that Mark Prater, former chief tax counsel for the Senate Finance Committee, will be managing director of PwC’s Washington National Tax Services group.

Budding bromance

Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci said he would consider co-hosting a cable TV show with lawyer Michael Avenatti, who represents Stormy Daniels.

“He has a real presence [on TV]. He would be the type of guy that I would want on my team, frankly,” Scaramucci told C-SPAN. “Would I have a show with him? Nothing has really come up with that.”

Stick to senatoring

Sen. Marco Rubio posted a video this weekend predicting that the New Orleans Saints and Cleveland Browns will play in the next Super Bowl.

The Browns have never been in the Super Bowl and are coming off a 0-16 season, but you can check out his Rubio’s reasoning.


Rep. Gus Bilirakis is getting hammered about some of the topics of his first-ever Women's Summit, like gardening, weight loss and “a woman’s guide to financial planning,” the Tampa Bay Times reported from an event flier.

The congressman said the topics came from feedback after a women’s event in 2014.

So that explains it

A series of unintelligible tweets from Rep. Billy Long last week raised a few questions. It turns out that the congressman's phone was hacked, AJC reported.

Long deactivated his Twitter account and will have the House tech staff look at his phone.

‘Work hard at work worth doing’

Rep. Seth Moulton invoked lessons from Teddy Roosevelt and his grandfather in tackling a project at home this weekend.

Big event this week

The always popular annual ice cream party on Capitol Hill, hosted by the International Dairy Foods Association, is on Wednesday. It's from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Union Square Park, which is located across the reflecting pool from the Capitol.

Staffer shuffle

Hannah Smith is Sen. Chris Coons' new deputy communications director. She previously was communications director for Rep. Debbie Dingell.

Brookfield, WI — Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) is hosting a series of public town hall meetings beginning Sunday, June 3 in Hartford, WI.

Rep. Sensenbrenner: “It is important for citizens to have the opportunity to raise concerns and ask questions directly to their elected representatives. After a successful spring full of town hall meetings, I’m pleased to announce my summer schedule, and I look forward to seeing everyone there.”

Event Details:

Hartford Town Hall Meeting

Hartford City Hall

109 N. Main Street

Hartford, WI 53027

Sunday, June 3


This event is free and open to all constituents of Wisconsin’s Fifth Congressional District as well as members of the press.

Constituents who are unable to attend are encouraged to share their feedback HERE.

An up-to-date list of upcoming town hall meetings can be found HERE.                

By: Amanda Michelle Gomez of ThinkProgress

It was rush hour, but no one could leave the parking garage. Activists from ADAPT, a national disability rights group, hurled their wheelchairs and their bodies in front of AARP employees’ cars so they couldn’t leave. Someone spotted an opening. “You! There,” said one protester to another in a wheelchair, who then launched himself in front of a car, stopping the employee from driving away.

Roughly 200 ADAPT activists last Tuesday surrounded the Washington, D.C. headquarters of AARP, the influential non-profit focused on older adults, barricading exits so no one could leave. Police eventually guided people out of the building. But they only made it as far as the end of the block before activists stopped them again with their bodies.

ADAPT wouldn’t let up until either AARP endorsed a critical civil rights bill, or they were arrested.

“You worked with us to save Medicaid,” an AARP representative told a few ADAPT organizers during the protest, referencing the time when the groups were united and fought to save Obamacare. To this, activists scoffed.

“So when they say ‘we worked together on this’ and they’re not willing to work on our right to life and liberty — it’s completely disrespectful to the disability community because what it says is ‘we will use you as a win for us but we won’t support your right to life and liberty,’” said Bruce Darling, an ADAPT organizer. “We thought we had earned the respect of progressives and Democrats.”

ADAPT protested for six hours in humid, 90-degree heat before police successfully escorted every AARP employee out of the garage — but only after employees were forced to drive on a sidewalk they secured from activists. No one was arrested, and one activist suggested this was perhaps because many protesters were themselves AARP members, though the rationale was not made clear.

ADAPT managed to inconvenience people at Gallery-Place Chinatown, but that was the point. People with disabilities are repeatedly made to feel like this in public as they try to get through their days — AARP and other bystanders only had to experience it for a couple of hours.

“When it comes to civil disobedience, and that level of activism, it really is, and always has been ADAPT,” said Rebecca Cokley, a disability rights activist and senior fellow at the Center for American Progress (CAP). ThinkProgress is an editorially independent news site housed at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. “They know how to catch lightning in a jar, and over the last several years have become extremely strategic in both their scheduling and where they go and who they visit.”

ADAPT is the country’s only direct action advocacy group focused on disability rights. It’s a decades-old organization that garnered national attention last summer after Capitol Hill police dragged ADAPT demonstrators in wheelchairs and with assistive canes out of Trumpcare hearings. They were protesting the Medicaid cuts that would have severe repercussions for people with disabilities.

“People for the first time on national television saw disabled Americans being dragged away and disappeared, but that for us happens everyday. They are taken from their homes and forced into institutions,” said Bruce Darling, an ADAPT organizer. “We are just dramatizing the conflict.”

It’s this tactic that earned ADAPT credit for helping save Obamacare. And it’s also what led to recent, incremental wins for a bill that’s been years in the making: the Disability Integration Act (DIA). After staging multiple protests within 24 hours last week, ADAPT secured endorsement for the bill from the Center for American Progress, as well as meetings with AARP and the Heritage Foundation (though the latter also played a prominent role in pushing for the repeal of Obamacare). Throughout the week, ADAPT protesters visited lawmakers’ offices to demand support for DIA.

The objective was to garner as much support from lawmakers and prominent think tanks, planned with an eye toward the midterms. “We want disabled Americans to know which candidates support their life and liberty and which are okay with them essentially being locked up,” said Darling.

ADAPT’s been working for 2.5 years fo pass DIA, but unlike the health care fight over the summer, the activism around DIA is getting minimal attention in many mainstream news outlets.

So what is it? And why has it barely registered on so much of the American public’s consciousness?

The Disability Integration Act, explained

The story of the Disability Integration Act begins with the fight to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.

The ADA outlawed discrimination in public and private settings, and began to make it easier for people with disabilities to work and get around their communities. Cokley calls it “probably the widest reaching civil rights legislation since the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

But one area the ADA did not truly address was the need to make it easier for people with disabilities who required long-term care to live in their homes instead of being institutionalized.

“[I]n recent years, as we’ve seen the institutional bias wax and wane, our colleagues in ADAPT and the disability community writ large have been fighting for the right to live in their homes, for the right to age in place, to receive the services that their lives depend on in their home, in their communities, with their families, versus being warehoused against their will in an institutional setting,” said Cokley.

At times, the courts helped on this front. In 1999, the Supreme Court ruled in Olmstead v. L.C. that the ADA actually required public entities to provide people with disabilities appropriate community-based services, when those services can be accommodated.

Put another way, when someone with a disability does not prefer to live in a nursing home, psychiatric unit of a hospital, or other institution, states, counties, and cities have to do their best to find home-based solutions within the community. Solutions like providing a home health aide are actually half as expensive as housing someone full-time in a nursing home, and they can allow the person to lead a fuller, happier, and more productive life.

However, many states were not providing the services their residents needed. While the Affordable Care Act attempted to provide states with more Medicaid funding to do this via the Community First Choice State Plan, only eight states offered it as of 2016. The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee concluded in a 2013 report that this needed to change, most efficiently by amending the ADA by requiring states to allow residents with disabilities the choice of where they want to live and receive services.

This is called strengthening the ADA’s “integration mandate,” and something the Disability Integration Act tries to address. While the legislation would not directly amend the ADA, ADAPT’s website says it “strengthens Olmstead’s integration mandate and creates federal civil rights law which addresses the civil rights issue that people with disabilities who are stuck in institutions cannot benefit from many of the rights established under the ADA.”

It might seem like a no-brainer to get unanimous consent for a legislative solution to a problem that affects millions of Americans, and that supporters argue would save taxpayer money while easing the regular daily struggles of people with disabilities and those who support them.

The DIA was introduced in the current Congress by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and has been steadily gaining cosponsors. But passage is by no means a done deal. Organizers still face significant hurdles.

“We struggle on both sides of the aisle with this bill,” said Darling. “Conservative politicians make a lot of money from donations they receive from those institution owners. Progressives get a lot of donations from the unions that organize within the facilities.”

AFSCME, the labor organization that represents many health care workers, has spent millions on Democratic campaign efforts, and the nursing home industryhas contributed millions to both Democrats and Republicans. ThinkProgress asked AFSCME if it supported the DIA or had a position on changes to long-term care policy and a spokesperson declined to comment.

How ADAPT gets a bill passed

Heath Montgomery, along with 200 other ADAPT activists, visited every House members’ office last Wednesday, explaining to representatives’ staff why they should support the DIA. That day, they got six more lawmakers to support the bill. So far, 107 have — 18 senators and 89 representatives from both sides of the aisle. This support and ongoing negotiations with prominent D.C. think tanks have activists feeling pretty optimistic.

“The focus has been on disabled folks putting their bodies on the line, but there’s been less conversation about why,” said Cokley. “What is it that they’re actively fighting for? Because yes, they’re fighting for Medicaid, but they’re also having a conversation about the institutional bias that’s inherent within Medicaid, and the fact that a lot of these programs do need to change, and do need to evolve in ways that could enhance the freedoms experienced by disabled Americans beyond just ‘oh, Stephanie Woodward was being pulled out of her wheelchair again’ — actually why, Stephanie, why are you fighting for this, why does it matter, and what does action look like, and what does ADAPT want to see?”

Many activists admitted it’d be strange for President Donald Trump to sign the next big disability rights bill into law, given the president’s offensive comments on the campaign trail and regressive policy thereafter. But a win’s a win, and bipartisan support for this bill is growing, said various ADAPT members.

Activists are drawing inspiration from demonstrations that led to the passage of the ADA. Heath for one is motivated by other young disability activists. At 9 years old, Heath is the youngest member of ADAPT and just one year older than Jennifer Keelan, who in 1990 became a symbol for the disability movement when she tossed aside her wheelchair to ascend the Capitol steps. This was known as the “Capitol Crawl,” a demonstration meant to illustrate the need for accessibility. That year, the ADA passed.

“His life is built on the foundation that this movement created,” said Heath’s mom Jenny. Heath is living with cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that affects body movement and coordination. “Everytime he rides an accessible bus, everytime he goes into an accessible building — that is because of ADAPT.”

“Part of what we’re excited to see is the attention and awareness in progressive communities that people with disabilities are valuable allies and that they are a constituency group that can be incredibly powerful in fights like as you saw in the health care fight where I think you saw progressives rightly crediting them with putting their bodies on the line in a way that was transformational in that debate and that in many ways saved the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid,” said Rebecca Vallas, vice president for the Poverty to Prosperity Program at the Center for American Progress.

She argued that progressives need to avoid inadvertent tokenism by ensuring that people with disabilities “need to be at the table for agenda-setting, for policymaking, that we need to be centering disability as we think about our broader agenda, not just as an outreach or a media strategy.”

ADAPT started as Americans Disabled for Accessible Public Transportation but later changed to Americans Disabled Attendant Programs Today. It got its start in 1983 in Denver, Colorado initially focusing on getting wheelchair accessible lifts on buses.

Technically speaking, there isn’t a national ADAPT organization. Rather, it’s made of roughly 30 state affiliates across the country. They’re a distributed, guerilla-style, 501c(3) non-profit organization, have almost no overhead, and no central office. Members of each state group meet twice a year to prioritize an issue. Last fall they were on the defensive, protecting Medicaid. This spring, they’re on the offensive, advocating for DIA.

“Our approach is really to build on our strengths: we get in the way. If we go out to a restaurant, we are blocking up things,” said Darling. “We are comfortable with that. It makes everyone else very uncomfortable to have to climb over people with disabilities and to have to deal with us.”

It’s this strategy that got AARP’s attention. Activists capitalized on the fact that AARP employees didn’t know what to do when protesters surrounded their cars. But sometimes activists’ wheelchairs are used against them. At one point during this protest, a police officer took the key from someone’s powered wheelchair, effectively paralyzing them. In another instance, three police officers physically carried away a man in a wheelchair who was protesting.

And these tactics have mixed results. A day before, activists staged protests at the offices of Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) to get their endorsement. Murray’s staff agreed to cosponsor the bill, but at Alexander’s office, 20 activists were arrested.

ADAPT is a leaderless resistance. While conventional wisdom is leaderless movements are impossible to maintain, ADAPT appears to make it work. Two to three people set the schedule last week and knew where all the staged protests were, while everyone else was left in the dark until they arrived at the demonstration site.

“For me, as a disabled person, I’m constantly dependent upon those around me and in general I have trouble trusting,” said Sheryl Grossman. “When I’m amongst my own here we’re all at some points in that space and we know what it feels like and so we learn to trust each other. And I know that any one of these folks would have my back in a split second.”

This is why ADAPT is bigger than just the policy they advocate for, dozens of activists told ThinkProgress. For Charles Miller, ADAPT is where he learned about wheelchair maintenance. For Cheryl Gottlieb, it means not having to worry if her ride to an event is wheelchair accessible. And for many, ADAPT is the epitome of community integration done right.