Audio reveals that Kyrsten Sinema says she wants to hear from voters. She got her wish

This story is co-published with The Daily Poster

Months before the Arizonans started filming Senator Kyrsten Sinema Many times refusing To reply questions about her political positions, she told restaurant lobbyists how important it is for senators to hear what their constituents have to say and for lawmakers to share their positions on the issues and their reasoning.

“Senators need to hear from their constituents,” Sinema said in April. “Hearing voters early and often makes all the difference… You don’t want to assume that because someone is a Republican or because someone is a Democrat, you know exactly where they stand. They may have a public position on an issue, but it is also that person’s job to represent their constituents. And you can provide them with key information to help them best represent their constituency.

“Senators need to hear from their constituents,” said Senator Kyrsten Sinema. She passed through the United States Capitol in Washington, DC on September 30, 2021.
Mandel Ngan / AFP via Getty Images

Urging voters to “be polite,” Sinema continued, “There will be people who agree with you on an issue, there will also be people who disagree with you on an issue. My opinion is that it is normal and it is good. But it is always best to have a meeting so that people know what your position is and that you share with them why you have this position. And this meeting is important, regardless of the person’s opinion on the matter in general. “

Sinema made the comments at the National Restaurant Association (NRA) annual public affairs conference, a virtual event designed to help restaurateurs effectively lobby lawmakers. The senator spoke to Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of public affairs for the NRA, whose wife’s fundraising company raises funds for her PAC campaign and leadership. Sinema recently helped block legislation on the $ 15 minimum wage in March, a key priority for the restaurant lobby.

“We must hold you to account”

Now, six months later, Sinema is ignoring her own advice, refusing to hear or speak with voters who fear she will become a major obstacle for Democrats as they seek to push through key elements of the government. President Joe Biden’s economy, climate and health. care program in a $ 3.5 trillion reconciliation bill.

Sinema hasn’t said much, if anything, publicly about what she does and doesn’t support in legislation. She does not organize press conferences or town halls, and she does not speak to journalists in the halls of the Capitol.

Instead, her team distributed vague scoops from an anonymous source to Beltway media about her stance on policies that would help millions of people, such as allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices (she opposes this. ) and expand Medicare to cover dental, vision and hearing services (she is “less interested”).

Sinema flew to Arizona on Friday amid negotiations over the reconciliation bill because a spokesperson said she had a doctor’s appointment for a foot injury. But while in Phoenix, she attended a fundraising retreat with donors at the Royal Palms Spa & Resort the next day. When voters attempted to confront Sinema at the compound, she left through a back entrance, from a video published by the activist group LUCHA Arizona (Living United for Change in Arizona).

Protesters on Sunday confronted Sinema outside the class she teaches at Arizona State University, calling on her to support the Democrats’ Build Back Better plan, in another video posted by LUCHA Arizona.

Some of the protesters regular Sinema in a bathroom, and one, named Blanca, filmed herself trying to talk with the senator about a path to citizenship for immigrants and SB 1070, the anti-illegal immigration law of the Arizona “show me your papers”.

“I was brought here to the United States when I was 3,” Blanca said. “In 2010 my two grandparents were kicked out because of SB 1070. I’m here because I truly believe we need a path to citizenship. My grandfather passed away two weeks ago, and I couldn’t go to Mexico and visit him because there is no path to citizenship.

Blanca said that “if we have the opportunity to adopt it now then we have to do it because there are millions of undocumented migrants like me who share the same story or worse”, adding: “We have to hold on to you responsible for what you promised us you were going to pass when we knocked on doors for you. “

Sinema did not respond to the protesters. During her 2018 Senate campaign, Sinema – who was once a progressive who welcomed public activism – said that immigrants who are brought to the United States as minors, known as Dreamers, “deserve a path to citizenship ”.

“I believe our Dreamers are citizens in everything but paperwork,” Sinema said. “These are young people who are brought to our country without any choice and who often have not even learned that they are not citizens until it is time to go to college or enter. the army. “

Democrats have considered including substantial immigration reforms in their reconciliation bill, but they likely won’t, as the Senate parliamentarian – an unelected adviser whom the Democrats could cancel or replace – gave them said it would violate the rules of budget reconciliation. Sinema said in February: “There is no case in which I would overrule a parliamentarian’s decision.”

“Do you think leadership is? “

On Monday, Sinema released an angry statement about the bathroom confrontation. “Yesterday’s behavior was not a legitimate protest,” she tweeted, adding: “My students have been unfairly and unlawfully victimized.”

The statement continued by noting: “It is the duty of elected leaders to avoid fostering an environment in which honest political disagreements serve as the basis for vitriol – by raising the temperature of political rhetoric and creating an empowering structure. for unacceptable behavior. “

While Sinema claimed that she and her team had met “several times” with the activist group that confronted her, according to a statement provided by LUCHA Arizona, “Sinema voters were denied access to her office. , they were ignored, fired, and upset. “

The statement continued, “With all eyes on Arizona and Senator Sinema right now, many Arizonans are wondering if Sinema is doing his job? The millions of Arizonans who include the black, brown and native communities that l ‘elected officials don’t think she is. Sinema has shown no interest in engaging with her constituents or meeting her colleagues halfway through critical legislation. “

Later Monday another Arizona tried to talk with Sinema on his flight from Phoenix to Washington, asking him to “commit to a reconciliation [bill] which could pave the way to citizenship for immigrants. Sinema did not respond.

A DACA recipient named Karina tried to ask Kyrsten Sinema if she would support a path to citizenship for immigrants and Sinema refused to answer.

If Karina were a business and had a giant fundraiser for Sinema, maybe she would get an answer.

– Jordan (@JordanUhl) October 4, 2021

Protesters followed Sinema out of Washington’s Ronald Reagan National Airport.

“Who would you leave behind?” ” a demand. ” Seniors ? Immigrants ? People without dental care? Who would you leave behind, Senator Sinema? We just want to have a conversation. You ignore everyone.

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