Republican congressman sneaks out of meeting swarmed by hundreds of protesters

The crowd chanted “shame on you!” as Rep. Roskam drove away.

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) CREDIT: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) CREDIT: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Constituents of Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) have been trying to share their concerns regarding the Republican-led effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. A meeting with 16 constituents was abruptly canceled by Roskam’s staff this week when they learned a member of the press was present, and Roskam’s appearance at the Palatine Township Republican Organization on Saturday was changed from being open to the public to a members only event, according to the Chicago Tribune.

More than 300 people showed up to protest outside the closed door meeting, expressing concerns ranging from the Obamacare repeal to President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban.

“We can no longer accept that he refuses to hold town hall meetings or meet with constituents who may disagree with his voting record,” Carolynne Funk told the Tribune. “The stakes are now too high to tolerate being shut out of the democratic process any longer.”

Video posted by Citizen Action Illinois from the protest reportedly shows Roskam leaving out of the back door while the crowd can be heard chanting “shame on you!”

Roskam’s spokesperson defended the congressman’s record of meeting with constituents and blamed the protests on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) in a statement to NBC-Chicago.

“These national groups are free to come into our community and exercise their first amendment rights, but it’s not going to keep him from meeting with constituents,” spokesperson David Pasch said. “He’s focused on representing the people of the western and northwestern suburbs in Washington, D.C., not the other way around.” Pasch also said the canceled meeting with constituents would be rescheduled.

Roskam wasn’t the only Republican to face an angry crowd of constituents on Saturday.

A sizable crowd gathered at a town hall held by Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) while constituents inside expressed their concerns regarding the policies of the Trump administration and the Affordable Care Act repeal, according to KQED reporter Katie Orr, who was present.

Orr posted video on Twitter showing McClintock being escorted out of the event by police.

ThinkProgress’ Laurel Raymond identified several other recent instances of Republican lawmakers going to great lengths to avoid their constituents: Earlier this week, a small group of constituents went to Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R-AR) state office to discuss Obamacare. The door was locked and Cotton’s staff hid inside, saying the senator wouldn’t be taking constituent meetings. Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) invited constituents to “mobile office hours.” When they showed up to discuss health care and Trump’s Muslim ban, she never joined them. Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA) told a meeting of conservative groups last week, “Since Obamacare and these issues have come up, the women are in my grill no matter where I go.”

UPDATE: David Pasch, Rep. Roskam’s spokesperson, told ThinkProgress of the event: “local police asked him to leave through the back, as a protester was arrested earlier trying to rush the front door.” According to NBC-Chicago, police said the arrest “was a very minor thing,” and any charges filed against the protester wouldn’t be available until Monday.