Link to full raw video of this coffee hour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hl7gfxfB60
An evaluation of all 20 of U.S. Congressman, Tim Walberg’s responses to constituent questions at a town hall on March 11, 2019, in Dexter, Michigan. The “Effective Town Hall” rating system developed for this report, is based on the quality of engagement with constituents. Positive scores are for responses that address constituents’ questions and concerns truthfully, without being dismissive, divisive, or condescending. No points go to responses that fail to deliver on those minimum qualities. All except for one of Walberg’s responses failed that minimum standard. One of Walberg’s responses achieved the ideal rating.
20 QUESTIONS AT DEXTER with analysis of each
CONCLUSION: Score Card / Coda: Pinning Down a Fraud
APPENDIX: Additional Sources / Kim’s Op-Ed
This coffee hour occurred March 11, 2019 in Dexter, Michigan, and was one of Tim Walberg’s first events of the 116th Congressional term. I was present and recorded full video, and in the following weeks, gathered testimonials from four other constituents who had been present. They gave me permission report their testimonials, and to refer to them as:
· Constituent from Lima Township: Submitted Question Five about taxes.
· Rachel from Dexter: Submitted Question Ten and Question 17.
· Kim from Dexter: Did not submit questions, but wrote a Letter to Editor on the event.
· Greg: Did not submit questions, but engaged in discussion, and held signs.
I created the following scale to measure the quality of engagement with constituents:
Measure of an Effective Town Hall
· The Minimum (1 point): Addresses our questions and concerns. Responses are truthful; not dismissive, divisive, or condescending.
· Level Two (2 points): Responses are solutions-driven and tonally appropriate so not to undermine serious questions with misplaced humor.
· Level Three (3 points): Demonstrates an understanding of our concerns, provides additional relevant and reliable information, and offers helpful, empowering direction for us to participate in our own solutions.
· The Ideal (4 points): Connects our individual concerns with the concerns of the group to cultivate a sense of shared purpose and neighborly bonds, and everybody is genuinely represented.
Usage in this Report:
· Higher scores require the fulfillment of all lower level qualities.
· Each of the 20 responses were rated individually, as well as the preamble and wrap-up.
· The scoring system helped to evaluate the proceedings more clinically, with less visceral emotion.
§ Untruthful: one or more claims in a response was verifiably false. It does not mean a response was entirely false, or a lie.
§ Disregarded: a constituent’s original question or concern was not addressed.
§ Dismissive: a polite and relevant follow-up question was ignored or shut down.
§ Divisive: a response was partisan to a question that was not partisan; or conflict was encouraged among constituents; or unfair partisan favor was given to constituents.
20 QUESTIONS AT DEXTER with analysis of each
Criticized Rep. Omar / Recited A Bogus Stalin Quote / Bragged about Effective Rating / Introduced Event’s Moderator, a longtime Campaign supporter
[Transcript abridged, see video for full 11-minute preamble]
1:30 – Criticized Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN-05)
Walberg: “We ended up voting on only two, really two pieces of legislation. That being H.R.1, which we finished up on Friday. Which was the alleged election reform bill. Uh, we can talk about that if you’d like. We can also talk about the other one. I believe it was H.R. 8, which was a bill, or a resolution. It was supposed to take issue with some anti-Semitic comments made by Representative Omar, continuing anti-Semitic comments being made that question patriotism of members of Congress who support Israel, which is the majority of us, Democrat and Republican… ultimately at the end of the week on Thursday afternoon finally, a vote was taken that was just a nebulous resolution against being anti about anything. It’s hard to vote against something like that because I’m not anti-Semitic. I’m not racist. I’m not anti-Islam.”
· Walberg began the town hall on a divisive note by accusing his freshman female Democratic colleague of being anti-Semitic.
· Walberg suggested that to not support H.Res.183 [not H.R. 8] would implicate a person as being anti-Semitic, racist, or anti-Islam. Ilhan Omar supported H.Res.183. 23 House members voted against it, all were Republicans. Steve King (IA-04) voted “present”.
3:15 - Recited a Bogus Stalin Quote
Walberg held his phone out in his hand since the event started, so I anticipated that it would be used for something. Then he raised it up to recite an untruthful Stalin quote.
Walberg: “There’s a quote as we start this new round of town halls, it was a quote given by a famous world leader who said, ‘America is like a healthy body, and its resistance is threefold-’ Note what he said, ‘Its patriotism, its morality, its spiritual life-’. Went on to say, ‘If we can undermine these three areas, America will collapse from within.’ That’s a pretty scary thought…” [Walberg elaborated on that for a bit]
Me: “Who’s that quote from?”
Walberg: “That is a quote of a world leader. Let me ask, who do you think it’s from?”
Me: “I’ve heard you repeat it before.”
Walberg: “Who do you think it’s from?”
Me: “You attributed it to Joseph Stalin.”
Walberg: “Joseph Stalin. Isn’t that something? He caught it. He caught the uniqueness of the strength of America.”
· That Stalin quote was untruthful. In September 2018, I published a 38-page report about Walberg’s years of reciting it, so he knew it bothered me. Link to report:
· I believe that Walberg entered, holding his phone out with a plan to stoke an outburst from me. That explains his provocative verbal volley toward me: “who do you think it’s from?” – “Who do you think it’s from?” If I had an outburst, then he would try to divide the crowd against me, as he later did toward another constituent, Greg during Question 18. I did not have an outburst. Walberg has not recited that bogus quote since.
7:50 – Walberg bragged about “effective legislator” rating
Walberg: “Last week, it came out from a non-partisan organization, that I was rated the most effective legislator in the Michigan Republican delegation, 30th most effective out of the 244 Republicans in congress… The effective rating was based on legislative advancements, committee assignments, and those type of things.”
· That was the first time the group ranked Walberg at the top of Michigan GOP Congress members. Walberg used to, “cringe at” politicians for being proud of passing a lot of legislation, and if they bragged about it, “you ought to run from them!” [exhibit below]
· Cross Reference: Walberg’s “effective legislator” rating was cited again in Question 9, and Question 15.
Video Sources (April 29, 2010): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EanoCUoPa0
(September 2, 2010): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmPwZAZDM1w
10:00 – Introduced Moderator, Karl V. Fink, a Longtime Campaign Supporter
· Walberg’s moderator, former Washtenaw County Judge, Karl V. Fink, proves Walberg’s earlier claim to be untruthful, that he recruits moderators who are, “not connected with my office, or my campaign, or anything”. Karl Fink has financially supported Walberg’s principal campaign and “Victory Fund” 12 times over the years, totaling $3,830.00. Also, his son, Andrew Fink, was on salary with Walberg’s 2006 campaign.
FEC Receipt of one of Moderator, Karl V. Fink’s 12 contributions to Walberg’s campaigns
PREAMBLE) Effective Town Hall Rating: fails minimum standard
Reason: Walberg’s preamble was untruthful and divisive.
QUESTION ONE) Coffee Hour Format - Video time stamp: 11:00
“Why must questions be submitted this way? Follow-up questions are not well addressed with this system.”
Walberg: “Maybe. Maybe not. We’ve done it from long years of experience of trying to make this hour, which is always a short hour, as efficient and as effective as possible, and allowing more people to ask their key questions than just a few people that I know have follow-up issues, but many times, that just drags on and on. And sometimes, we’ve seen very clearly that becomes just really an opportunity for disagreement to continue on. And so, we’re doing our best to get the questions, and that’s the reason we’ve done it both ways. But, there are some in smaller settings. There are sometimes where we won’t even do the cards. But today, this is large enough that we want to get through as much as possible.”
“If you’ve been on my tele-town halls, you’ve heard in the last two tele-town halls, I’ve taken a different approach as well. We take the question, and then like on normal talk shows, we cut it off, answer the question, move on. I was averaging 12 questions and answers over the course of an hour on the phone. And now we’ve gotten up, approaching 20. That makes a lot of people more happy. Having sat on the line waiting, and then not getting a chance to even ask a question, so, we’re doing our best to cover time.” [End of response]
Analysis of Response One
· It was untruthful for Walberg to act like the time constraints on his town halls are outside of his control, “trying to make this hour, which is always a short hour…”. He has the same control over the format as he does for his campaign events, which are longer, or after 5:30 pm, or on Saturdays. None of Walberg’s Coffee Hours were as accessible as his campaign events during the same time frame [documents below]:
Recent events Walberg attended for longer, and/or more accessible times than his town halls
· It was untruthful for Walberg to say that a traditional town hall discussion format, “becomes just really an opportunity for disagreement to continue on”. Stifling constituents’ voices guarantees, ‘disagreement to continue on’. So, there remains far greater “opportunity” to achieve solutions, agreement, and understanding by hearing constituents, and addressing our relevant follow-up questions.
· Walberg was untruthful to say, “we’ve done it both ways”, as if there are only two ways to conduct town halls. Walberg arbitrarily switches the format to his advantage, “sometimes where we won’t even do the cards”, after he sees who’s in attendance.
· It was divisive for Walberg to say, “If you’ve been on my tele-town halls, you’ve heard in the last two tele-town halls…”. Walberg uses a GOP campaign company, Advantage Inc. at taxpayer expense, to pre-select constituents for ideology to be invited onto the tele-town halls, so myself and Rachel are shut out from ever joining in on them.
Cross-References: Telephone-town halls was discussed further in QUESTION 10. Also, Walberg referred to his town hall format again during QUESTION 18. Lastly, see APPENDIX, where Kim’s op-ed describes how follow-up questions were shut down at Dexter.
Q1) Effective Town Hall Rating: fails minimum standard
Reason: Walberg’s response was untruthful and divisive.
QUESTION TWO) Pregnancy / birth policies - 12:45
“In my opinion, the Republican party is not pro-life, rather pro-birth. Once that baby is born, the Republican party works hard to cut food, medical attention from that baby that give even a minimum quality of life. Also, the baby the parents couldn’t afford wouldn’t have been born in the first place if the Republicans didn’t shut down women’s health centers that provide birth control. Your comment on that that, please?”
[Note: Abridged transcript, marked with ellipses. See video for full 3:15 response.]
Walberg: “Well, you might guess I disagree with it, very firmly. As a Republican, I’ve strongly supported life after life. I served on a charter board of an adoption agency. I served on board of a pregnancy care center, and at a shepherding home, as well for unwed mothers, and as a ministry to unwed fathers as well, in trying to disciple them to become men that take responsibility”
“I’ve supported legislation that provides social welfare assistance, including food assistance to people truly in need. And I’ve also done, I think what is pro-life position as well in supporting legislation that would encourage work-capable individuals to perform some hours of work at least for things like their food stamps.”
“In America, we hurt people if we just allow people to receive care, but no responsibility with it. We’ve seen that with the burgeoning of the food stamp program under the last administration, tremendously increased. We saw that. Did that help people? No.”
[Some constituents responded contrarily, “Yes.”, and Walberg did not acknowledge them.]
Walberg: “And now we’ve seen as a result of good policies, economic policies, the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years, a continued increase in wages for the middle class wage increases. We’ve seen that continue…”
[Walberg then talked for 1.25 minutes about anti-abortion legislation]
Walberg: “…If a baby lives after an abortion attempt, is born alive, we take care of that baby in the same way that we would take care of any other baby. That’s pro-life.” [End of response]
Analysis of Response Two:
· Walberg disregarded the question about the GOP cutting medical care. Walberg’s deflection to focus on non-profit work was irrelevant to GOP legislative policy.
· Notice how Walberg denied the GOP’s efforts to cut food assistance, by claiming he supported legislation to help, “people truly in need”, which implied that he believed that people who currently receive government help are not, “truly in need”.
· Walberg was untruthful that, “We’ve seen that with the burgeoning of the food stamp program under the last administration, tremendously increased.” In fact, the Farm Bill, signed into law by Barack Obama on February 7, 2014, at a ceremony in East Lansing, Michigan, cut Food Stamps by $8.7 Billion over ten years.
Link to article: http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/obama-signs-food-stamp-cut
· Walberg did not specify any names, locations, or dates for the non-profits that he worked with. I checked Walberg’s candidate profiles from newspaper archives to find group names [see exhibit below], then checked non-profit Annual Reports, IRS 990s, and other official filings for those groups, and I only found one group where Walberg’s name appeared on their board:
§ “I served on a charter board of an adoption agency.”
This is true. This was the Christian Cradle Adoption Agency. Walberg signed onto their articles of incorporation in 1983 [see document below].
§ “I served on a board of a pregnancy care center”
Possibly Living Water Works, Inc., AKA CPC: Care Pregnancy Center of Lenawee. None of the records that I found showed Walberg as a board member.
§ “and at a shepherding home, as well for unwed mothers”
I do not know what group Walberg was referring to.
§ “and as a ministry to unwed fathers as well, in trying to disciple them to become men that take responsibility”
I do not know what group this was either.
Candidate Profile From Lansing State Journal, July 29, 2004 (with my markups & corrections)
Articles of Incorporation from the Christian Cradle Adoption Agency, 1983
Q2) Effective Town Hall Rating: fails minimum standard
Reason: Walberg disregarded the question, and was untruthful.
QUESTION THREE) Tax allocation - 16:35
“What can be done to prevent tax increases, including the proposed gas tax? What would be the most efficient ways to check that funds are being allocated properly? Example: Taxes for schools not working - Not wanting to keep dumping money when not accounted for.”
Walberg: “Well, the only way to deal with that, is make sure you’re in contact with your legislative branch, your legislator at each level of government that is considering tax increases, or revenue enhancements – whatever term they use today. Uh, the gas tax that’s being talked of – that’s at the state level, so you need to talk with Donna Lasinski [state 52nd district], for instance, and discuss what her position is on it. Any tax at the federal level that we’re looking at, whether it’s a tax in the New Green Deal [sic], or whatever, uh, please keep in contact with me. At the local level, school boards are the people to talk to for any type of tax increases that go toward education, or certainly your county commissioners, or your local township or village officials.”
“Again, um, ‘Price of liberty is eternal vigilance’ was once said. I think that’s true, and it’s your liberty that’s in question in your mind, so make sure that you keep in contact directly. You certainly, by evidence of being here today are some of the minority, sadly, that really take an active involvement in their governmental system. Go to the school board, and you’ll see another set of people. Go to a County Commission, you’ll see another set of people. But basically dealing with the issue at hand of that meeting. That’s the important thing to do.”
Analysis of Response Three:
· This was an ideal response. There was nothing divisive or untruthful in Walberg’s response which fully addressed the content of the question, was appropriate in tone, and provided specific useful empowering advice about resolving the constituent’s concerns. To top it off, Walberg tied in the concerns from the question with the group, giving a positive sense of shared purpose for everyone in attendance.
Cross Reference: Compare Walberg’s invitation above to “please keep in contact with me” about “Any tax at the federal level” with how he completely shut down any discussion on federal tax questions just two minutes later in Question Five.
Q3) Effective Town Hall Rating: The Ideal (4 points)
Reason: Walberg’s response fulfilled the qualities of the lower levels, and tied the constituent’s concerns in with the shared purpose of the rest of the attendees.
QUESTION FOUR) PFAS regulation - 18:45
“What do you think should be done about PFAS contamination of our water supply?”
Walberg: “We gotta clean it up. That’s another issue that Debbie Dingell and I, as well as Dale [sic] Kildee are working on, continue calling for the appropriate agencies to do the work. Fortunately in Michigan, we’re ahead of the game. During the last administration, a Czar – It’s not her exact title, but a Czar was put in place to oversee all of that water contamination issue, and to acquire the funding, both from the state level, and the state has put some significant dollars into it, and Debbie and I, and Dan, and others are pushing the Feds to up their responsibility with dollars that would go toward environmental cleanups: PFAS, PFOS, and any other thing that comes up.”
“These are contaminants that we are now able to quantify and find. And we found them in numerous places – well, not numerous, but thus far in a number of places across the 7th District: In the Huron River, here in the Ann Arbor area, as well. And we’re working to clean it up, and make sure that we don’t let it continue, and also check on other things that might be contaminating as well.” [End of response.]
Analysis of Response Four:
· Walberg was untruthful about, “pushing the Feds to up their responsibility” to clean up PFAS. Walberg did not support that on January 14, 2019 when Debbie Dingell introduced H.R. 535 – PFAS Action Act of 2019, co-sponsored by Dan Kildee. The bill was essentially the same as one section from a bill [H.R. 6835] that Walberg did support the previous term. Dingell simply took that one section, requiring the EPA to decide whether or not to designate PFAS as a hazardous substance. Walberg explicitly opposed the bill in committee, and again on January 10, 2020 during the full House vote.
· Walberg was also untruthful about working to, “make sure that we don’t let it continue”. The only two PFAS bills that Walberg has ever supported [H.R. 6835 & H.R. 2626] said that the federal government will only engage in PFAS cleanup after a state requests aid for it. Walberg has not supported any federal preventative regulation or enforcement to “make sure” that PFAS contamination would not occur in the future.
· “Fortunately in Michigan, we’re ahead of the game” – in fact, Michigan has by far the most identified PFAS contaminated sites in the U.S., that still need cleaning up.
Q4) Effective Town Hall Rating: fails minimum standard
Reason: Walberg’s response was untruthful.
QUESTION FIVE) GOP tax reform, by Constituent from Lima Township - 20:10
“Last year, my Federal withholding tax dropped $2.86 from my paycheck, yet instead of receiving a tax refund, I now have to pay the IRS hundreds of dollars. The math doesn’t add up. The GOP tax cut has not worked for me.”
Walberg: “Well, I’m sorry it hasn’t worked for you. I can’t really comment on the specifics, cause I don’t know the specifics. [note the contradiction below] But, if you would like to contact my office, where we have time -”
Constituent from Lima Twp: “That was my question. Would you like to ask me?”
Walberg: “Uh, not today.”
Constituent from Lima Twp: “Why-” [interruption]
Walberg: “ You’ve given your statement. We’ve talked about it before, but you have a unique situation. [note the contradiction above] And we have people in my office that can walk you through your tax policy, your tax reform.”
Constituent from Lima Twp: “I had an accountant walk through me - with me last year. I had the same thing this year -” [Interruption]
Walberg: “Let me say, the majority of people across the state, because of the tax cuts, have experienced just the opposite of what you’ve experienced.”
Multiple Constituents: “Not true - not true.” [Incredulous laughter throughout the room]
Constituent from Lima Twp: “Good! Listen here!”
Walberg: “The most recent report came out, in fact, from a non-partisan group, saying that the average was a 33% reduction of individuals.”
Constituent from Lima Twp: “No. Not true!”
Me: “Oh, definitely not.”
Constituent from Lima Twp: “Could you have a raise of hands, please?”
Walberg: “Okay, let’s move on to the next one.”
Constituent from Lima Twp: “Ugh! This is supposed to be a discussion, isn’t it? [see invitation below] It’s a coffee hour, a conversation.”
Walberg: “This is - this is a coffee hour town hall.”
Greg: “She merely asked for a hand vote. I mean, really.”
Walberg: “Let’s move onto the next.”
Constituent from Lima Twp: “Ugh.”
[End of Exchange. Walberg silently stared out at the din of constituents that he had upset and expressed a spiteful smirk-grimace. The moderator looked out with a concerned expression]
Analysis of Response Five:
· Notice the contradiction in Walberg’s response. He first claimed, “I don’t know the specifics” about the constituent’s situation, but then he interrupted her to say, “We’ve talked about it before”, and he already understood her, “unique situation”, and did not need to hear her repeat the details. Two weeks after the event, I wrote to the Constituent from Lima Township for clarity on that contradiction, and she responded:
“Yes, the Dexter event was the first time I had brought up my situation of having an additional tax burden this year. I had no communication with Walberg or his offices about my situation previous to the Dexter event. Neither Walberg nor his offices has reached out to me since (the question card included my name, address, email address).”
- Reflection from Constituent from Lima Township (March 25, 2019)
· Walberg harassed her. He used his position of power and authority to lie about a constituent while that constituent was surrounded by others in a public setting, to make her feel small and alone. The rest of the crowd did not know that the two of them had never discussed her issue before, so we could not push back on Walberg for that lie. Walberg repeatedly interrupted, and overpowered her voice with his microphone, and untruthfully, dismissively, divisively, and condescendingly treated her follow-ups, as though they were pointless, disruptive rehashes of material that, “We’ve talked about it before”. Walberg should publicly apologize to her, for publicly demeaning her.
· Walberg was untruthful with regard to the invitations that he sent out for the Dexter event, stating that the purpose was, “to discuss important issues facing our community and nation”, including, “issues to help hardworking Michigan taxpayers”. So, Walberg should have been happy and well-prepared to engage in discussion about a tax problem with the Constituent from Lima Township, instead of shutting her down in defiance of his own invitation for the event:
Invitation mailed to some constituents for this March 11th Dexter Coffee Hour event
Let’s Explore this Sentence:
Walberg: “The most recent report came out, in fact, from a non-partisan group, saying that the average was a 33% reduction of individuals.”
Every part of the sentence is vague:
· “Most Recent Report” – Monthly? Quarterly? Annual? Or a non-periodical report?
· “From A Non-Partisan Group” – Academic? Government Agency? A Non-Profit?
· “Average was a 33% reduction of individuals” – Individual-what? Tax rate?
I could not find any recent non-partisan report that had any such favorable figures about the GOP Tax Reform. On March 19, 2019 I called Walberg’s DC Office to request more details on Walberg’s claim. I read the full quote to his intern, Leah, and I asked:
“Which report, from which non-partisan group was Walberg referring to?”
Leah said she would have to ask Walberg’s legislative team, and would get back to me. They didn’t get back to me, so I kept calling. By my third and final follow-up call, on April 2, 2019, Walberg’s intern, Brad assured me that they were still working on my question, and would get back to me. I told Brad that it should not take weeks of effort to resolve such a simple question. If Walberg’s statement had been truthful, then his staff could glance over at that “most recent report”, and just tell me the name of it.
Walberg’s office never followed up with me on that. So I conclude that Walberg lied to us.
Q5) Effective Town Hall Rating: fails minimum standard
Reason: Walberg disregarded constituent’s concerns, was untruthful, dismissive, divisive, and condescending.
QUESTION SIX) School / border security - 21:35
“Our local tax dollars are being spent to redesign our public school building’sentryways in order to route visitors through the main offices for security reasons. How is this any different than tightening our national borders for increased security?”
Walberg: “Good deduction. I don’t think that there’s any difference to it. And Federal tax dollars were sent to state and local communities to be used in doing whatever is necessary to secure our schools so that our kids can go to school safe and come home safe. And the same thing is true with our national borders. Same thing is true when past Presidents spent money on building walls along our national borders as well.” [End of response]
Analysis of Response Six:
· Walberg was untruthful to declare, “Same thing is true when past Presidents spent money on building walls along our national borders as well.”
§ Past Presidents understood, per the Constitution [Article I, section 9, clause 7], that Congress has the sole authority to appropriate treasury funds.
§ “past Presidents” have never declared a national emergency, in defiance of Congress, to unilaterally re-appropriate treasury funds for a border wall.
Cross Reference: School security was mentioned again in response to Question 17.
Q6) Effective Town Hall Rating: fails minimum standard
Reason: Walberg’s response was untruthful.
QUESTION SEVEN) Checking Trump - 22:35
“Your fellow Republican House member, Liz Cheney has criticized the President’s plan to force U.S. allies to pay billions of dollars more for hosting American troops on their soil. Have you ever publicly disagreed with any of this President’s policies? If yes, please elaborate. If no, are you really in total agreement with every Presidential policy, or just willing to stay silent?”
Walberg: “Well, um, I can’t speak for Liz Cheney, why she disagreed, though she supports the President overwhelmingly as well. I’ve disagreed and have made statements in town halls like this about some of his personality statements, some of his tweets. Can’t go back and give specific tweets, there has been plenty of tweets, that have taken place.”
Constituent, woman: “That was my question. I’m not asking about the tweets. I’m asking about the policy.”
Walberg: “Well, the tweets are the policy in many cases, as well. And so, we’ve taken positions against those. When we talked about closing the borders to Muslims, that’s a policy. I can remember taking a stance against that. And I think my rating is somewhere up above 95% in support of the President’s policies. Why wouldn’t they be? They’re conservative policies. They’re economic conservative policies. And oh, and by the way, they’re working. And America is stronger now than it’s been in quite a few years, economically, militarily as well. And I think I’d also state we haven’t seen missiles flying from North Korea, over Guam for quite some time right now.” [End of exchange]
Analysis of Response Seven:
· Walberg disregarded the question about Trump’s policies, to talk about disagreeing with Trump’s tweets, but did not “elaborate” on any specifically. When the constituent followed up that she was asking about “the policy”, Walberg was dismissive to say, “the tweets are the policy in many cases”.
· Walberg was untruthful about “taking a stance against” “closing the borders to Muslims”. In January 2017, that was the subject of the first email that I ever sent to Walberg’s office. In Walberg’s reply to me [exhibit below], aside from one semi-criticism for, “further clarity”, he was completely supportive of Trump’s order.
Walberg’s email reply to me concerning Trump “closing the borders to Muslims”
· Walberg also signed onto a legal amicus brief to The US Supreme Court, “taking a stance” FOR “closing the borders to Muslims” [Exhibit below]:
Walberg signed onto this amicus brief supporting Trump “closing the borders to Muslims”
· Walberg was untruthful to say Trump’s policies are, “economic conservative policies”. Trump violated the following three Economic conservative policies:
1) Against budget deficits – the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, pushed by Trump, directly increased the national deficit by $2.5-trillion.
2) Against unconstitutional budget appropriations - Trump declared a National Emergency in February 2019 to unilaterally re-appropriate U.S. Treasury funds for a southern border wall [violated Article I, section 9, clause 7].
3) Against tariffs and industry bailouts - Trump unilaterally imposed multiple tariffs [violating Article I, section 8]. Over two years, Trump has issued $28,000,000,000 in bailouts to US farmers hurt by his own trade wars.
Q7) Effective Town Hall Rating: fails minimum standard
Reason: Walberg disregarded the question, was untruthful, and dismissive
QUESTION EIGHT) Global education - 24:25
“Thank you for your past support of the Global Partnership for Education. Will you please support a level of 125 million within the basic education budget for the fiscal year 2020? You can sign onto the ‘Dear colleague’ letter being circulated by Congressman Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania to do so, but the letter closes next week, March 17th.”
[Note: Abridged transcript, marked with ellipses. See video for full 1:30 response.]
Walberg: “Our policy has been, and it’s traditional policy of not signing onto letters that affect specific committees that I serve on. And because we’ll be dealing with that in the committee itself –“ [Interruption]
Constituent, woman: “This is for foreign aid appropriation.”
Walberg: “Well, it’s education, so we have oversight over that as well. In Congress, unlike the House and Senate in the state legislature, you have jurisdictional areas, and multiple jurisdictional areas, so if it deals with any type of education it’ll come to our jurisdiction as well.”
Constituent, woman: “Even foreign aid?”
Walberg: “Even in foreign aid. But bottom line, I’ll wait to see what the figures actually are, and how they line up with what the ability we have to fund. Any given – Let alone in the Global Education Fund. I’ve supported it in the past…”
[Walberg added a few more general comments about Trump’s proposed budget]
Analysis of Response Eight:
· Walberg was untruthful about “not signing onto letters that affect specific committees that I serve on”. One week prior, Walberg signed a letter directly connected to his Education and Labor committeeassignment, and its subcommittee, on which he is the Ranking Member [see document below].
One week prior, Walberg signed this letter directly related to his Committee assignment
· “I’ve supported it in the past.” – true. In the 115th Congress, Walberg cosponsored H.Res. 466, supporting the Global Partnership for Education. However, Walberg was untruthful about it being in his committees. None of Walberg’s committees had jurisdiction over that Resolution. H.Res. 466 was only sent to the Foreign Affairs Committee. So the constituent’s follow-ups were correct about it being “foreign aid”.
Cross Reference: Walberg made a similar false claim about Dear Colleague letters, during QUESTION 20), saying “We don’t sign letters on appropriations issues.”. Note how in above letter, members base their request to Nielsen on their “recent appropriations”.
Q8) Effective Town Hall Rating: fails minimum standard
Reason: Walberg’s response was untruthful.
QUESTION NINE) Bipartisanship - 26:20
“In light of your recent award as Michigan’s most effective legislator, how do you plan on continuing to work in a bi-partisan manor for our district?”
Walberg: “Same way as before. It’s not gonna change. I’m in the minority. So I’m gonna have to find different mechanisms, but the relationships I’ve developed already. Not only with Debbie Dingell, but now with Elissa Slotkin, who’s a new member representing the 8th District in Michigan. We’ve spent time together. I attended her ceremonial swearing in, in Lansing, surprised the room full of about 500 people, my wife and I walked in. Uh, but we’re colleagues now. We work together. In fact, right now, we’re planning a town hall together.”
“So, uh, we’ll continue to work that way. I don’t have a chairmanship this term. I’m a ranking member on the same subcommittee. So we have to function a bit differently, but the basic personal relations we have, and the philosophy that I have, hasn’t changed. So, I think we’ll work together probably about the same way.” [end of response]
Analysis of Response Nine:
Photo from Elissa Slotkin’s ceremonial swearing in, Lansing, Michigan January 13, 2019
· Walberg was untruthful about “planning a town hall together” with Elissa Slotkin. The event that they co-hosted in Lansing on July 30, 2019 was a Resource Fair for Military Veterans, not a town hall. To date, Walberg and Slotkin have not co-hosted any coffee hours or town halls.
· It was true that Walberg attend Slotkin’s ceremonial swearing in, but doubtfully, “surprised the room full of about 500 people”. The entire theme of Slotkin’s swearing-in speech, and her campaign was bipartisanship. So for a room full of her closest, most informed supporters, to see a Republican accept her invitation would not be surprising, but rather consistent with Slotkin’s whole platform.
Cross Reference: More of the methodology of Walberg’s “effective legislator” rating is discussed in QUESTION 15.
Q9) Effective Town Hall Rating: fails minimum standard
Reason: Walberg’s response was untruthful.
QUESTION TEN) Tele-town halls, by Rachel from Dexter - 27:50
“I would like to attend one of your tele-town halls. However, I, like many people these days, do not have a landline. How can I participate?”
Walberg: “That’s a challenge. There’s a creative tension there. A lot of people have their mobile phones now, and they would hope that by having their mobile phones, they wouldn’t have robo-calls at their mobile phone. I receive plenty of junk calls to my mobile phone, and I don’t know how they got it, but they are gradually getting it more and more.”
“So, the organization that we use [singular unnamed service], we pay to set up the robo-call setting for a tele-town hall, where a call is made announcing that a tele-town hall is going on. How they get their lists, I don’t know. I know they get some cell phones. Um, my wife gets a call on her cell phone. Um, I know some others that get a calls on their cell phone, I’ve heard, at least.”
Constituent, man: “I do.”
Walberg: [Acknowledges and engages with him] “You get one. So, you probably get a lot of junk calls on your cell phone too.”
Constituent, man: “Yes, I do.”
Constituent, woman: “Could you post that on your website?” [Unacknowledged]
Walberg: “The Do-Not-Call List just doesn’t seem to work anymore.”
Constituent, woman: “Could you post that on your website?”
Walberg: “Post what?”
Constituent, woman: “That you’re having a tele- whatever it’s called, tele-town hall?”
Walberg: “It’s done in a local community. For instance, we’ll do – I think the last one we did was Monroe, Washtenaw, and Eaton Counties. And those portions, of those counties are called by the list server [singular unnamed service] that makes those calls. What phone numbers are on that list, I have no control over. I’d assume that- ” [Interruption]
Greg: “You’re not answering any of the questions, sir!”
Walberg: “Thank you. Let’s go onto the next question then, we’ll try that one!”
Rachel: “That was my question, and you gave an opinion on my cell phone use, you didn’t actually tell me what you are doing to ensure that you have equal access to all of your constituents- ” [Interruption]”
Walberg: “All I’m saying is you’re gonna have to, um, have to talk to, uh, the companies [plural unnamed services]that do that researching.”
Rachel: “I would love to.”
Walberg: “We don’t do that.”
Rachel: “Can we talk after this meeting?”
Walberg: “Talk with my office, they would be glad to give you the name of that organization [singular unnamed service] that does it. And if you would like to call them and find out how to get on it. [Walberg shrugs shoulders]. I would assume that your cell phone is called by plenty of other people, and maybe over time they’ll find that.”
Greg: “You didn’t answer her question either about posting on your website.”
Walberg: “Thank you. If you’d like to make an application to my staff, you’re welcome to do that. Let’s move on.”[End of exchange]
Analysis of Response Ten:
· Here was Rachel’s impressions of Walberg’s response:
“He fumbled hilariously at first and tried to avoid the question. Ultimately, he deflected by claiming ignorance. But he did instruct me to contact his staff for the answers to my questions, which I was surprised by. I intend to do this follow up until I can prove that I’ll never be invited to a tele town hall because these are not truly open to the public but are instead targeted to likely or possibly Republican voters.”
- Reflection from Rachel (March 29, 2019)
· Rachel’s suspicions were correct. Since 2007, Walberg’s government office has spent over $375,000 of taxpayer money to the exclusively Republican campaign company, Advantage Inc for ads, robocalls, and conducting telephone-town halls.
Taxpayer payments from Walberg’s government office to GOP campaign company
· Rachel followed-up with Walberg’s District Director/Campaign Manager, Stephen Rajzer right after the event. Rajzer told her that the DC office organizes the telephone-town halls. Walberg’s staff never gave her the name of that company or helped her to ever join in on our Congressional office’s telephone-town halls.
· It was dismissive and condescending for Walberg to instruct Rachel to “talk to, uh, the companies”that do his telephone town halls, which was a fool’s errand. On September 18, 2019, I called Advantage Inc. to ask how I could participate in Walberg’s telephone town halls, and they replied, “We don’t interact with constituents.” Their reply was ironic, because most of the taxpayer disbursements from Walberg’s office, are addressed to the company’s assumed name, “Constituent Services Inc.”
· Walberg was untruthful to say that his office, “would be glad to give you the name of the organization that does it.” I called and wrote to Walberg’s office repeatedly for over six months asking for the name. No one from Walberg’s office ever provided it to me. Through research and analysis, I eventually found the name myself.
· Walberg’s response was divisive, because of the partisan, favorable treatment given to constituents who are invited onto to the telephone-town halls while shutting out others.
Q10) Effective Town Hall Rating: fails minimum standard
Reason: Walberg disregarded the question, was untruthful, dismissive, divisive, and condescending.
QUESTION 11) Trump’s lies - 30:45
“The Guardian reports that Trump has made 7,645 false statements since becoming President. That was in January of 2019. How can you, as a fundamentalist Christian, support a proven liar?”
[Abridged response, marked with ellipses. See video for full 3:30 minute exchange]
Walberg: “I’ve supported a number of Presidents. I’ve worked with, uh, a President that I didn’t support on his political philosophy. I’ve worked with members of Congress who may not have always told the truth, or their statement was taken out of context, and made to be a lie, when it really wasn’t. Right now I don’t have a choice on what President I work with. I represent the 7th District for the best effect that the 7th District can have as a result of my representation, and what goes on with the policy in Washington.”
“Uh, I could not have worked, if you would have made the same thing, the same question, if Hillary Clinton had won the Presidency, the same thing could have been true for her. The exact same thing – at least assertions about lying and deceit. That lady was a liar and a deceiver, and it’s been proven.”
[Mix of claps, groans, and heckles from constituents]
Walberg: “It’s been proven regardless of what the right-wing media says (sic).
Constituent, woman: “We’re not talking about her. She’s not the President!”
Walberg: “No she’s not. But if that would’ve been the requirement, I couldn’t-a worked with her either. Now, I don’t know whether the President’s lies, that are alleged to be lies, are lies.”
Other Constituent, woman: “Alleged?”
Constituent, woman: “They are!”
Walberg: “They are in your mind. They are in the mind of some others…”
[Walberg praised Trump’s policies. Constituents tried to steer back to the part of the question regarding Christianity, which Walberg deflected from again. End of exchange.]
Analysis of Response 11:
· Walberg disregarded the question about Trump and Christianity, to pivot onto a divisive attack on a woman who had not held public office since February 2013, nor sought public office in over two years. A constituent followed-up how, “We’re not talking about her.” but Walberg kept talking about her.
· Walberg disregarded the question about, “support” for Trump by pivoting to having, “worked with”Trump. Walberg even distinguished how those two things are different, how he “worked with” Obama, but “didn’t support” Obama. Even after distinguishing those things, Walberg never answered about his “support” for Trump.
· Walberg’s response was untruthful, dismissive, and condescending when he insulted a constituent woman by telling her that Trump’s lies were only, “in your mind.”
· Walberg was untruthful and inconsistent in his discernment. Walberg obstinately attacked a woman, “That lady was a liar and a deceiver, and it’s been proven.”, but then a moments later, “I don’t know whether the President’s lies, that are alleged to be lies, are lies.” Anyone whose discernment fluctuates so much from moment to moment, is unfit to hold such a powerful public office.
· Walberg’s “standard of truth” has deteriorated from the good values that he described in a graduation keynote at Spring Arbor University in 2015 [exhibit below]:
Graduation Video (51:00 mark): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXZyz7rMads
Q11) Effective Town Hall Rating: fails minimum standard
Reason: Walberg disregarded the question, was untruthful, dismissive, divisive, and condescending.
QUESTION 12) Radical left - 34:20
“I’m concerned about a radical, Socialist, left agenda, lowering the voting age to 16, abortion, infanticide, The Green Deal, national legalization of marijuana, allowing illegals to vote. What is your take on this, and any action plan you have?”
[Abridged response, marked with ellipses. See video for full 3-minute response.]
Walberg: [smiling and chuckling] “I agree! What more can I say? I agree.”
[Walberg then pulled out his phone to read us these House GOP talking points:]
Walberg read GOP talking points from phone, and claimed source was “my own experience”
Me: “Who put together that list?”
Walberg: “That list comes from my own experience. And if you’re watching carefully the news, you’ll pick that up as well. That comes from actual legislative action.”
Greg: “You mean Fox News?”
Walberg: “No. Thank god we don’t only have Fox News. Thank god we don’t only have MSNBC either, or CNN. Okay, let’s move on.” [end of exchange]
Analysis of Response 12:
· Walberg disregarded the constituent’s question for, “any action plan”. Also, Walberg’s smiles and chuckles were a condescending and undermining way to “agree” with the constituent who had expressed, “I’m concerned about…” those issues.
· Walberg was untruthful and dismissive toward my follow-up, “Who put together that list?”, by responding, “That list comes from my own experience.”. The implication that he wrote it himself wasuntruthful. At least two other House GOP members used the exact same talking points before Walberg did [see exhibit above]:
HOUSE GOP ECHO CHAMBER:
§ Rep. Liz Cheney (WY): The previous day, March 10, 2019, interviewed on Meet the Press, recited the same talking points. Link to transcript:
§ Rep. Mike Bost (IL-12): Posted the exact same talking points to his Facebook page 25-minutes before Walberg read them to us.
At every coffee hour for the next month, Walberg continued to pull out his phone and read those House GOP talking points:
§ March 20, 2019 - Grass Lake, MI (see 7:00 mark): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xq4hZ8m4B1g
§ March 22, 2019 – Morenci, MI – Adrian Daily Telegram’s coverage and headline became devoted to those House GOP talking points [see exhibit below]: https://www.lenconnect.com/news/20190323/walberg-disappointed-in-dem-house-initiatives
Adrian Daily Telegram article devoted around Walberg’s House GOP talking points
Q12) Effective Town Hall Rating: fails minimum standard
Reason: Walberg disregarded the question, was untruthful, dismissive, and condescending.
QUESTION 13) Election reform - 37:25
“The election reform bill would have ensured fair elections. Why did you vote against it? It would have reduced the role of big money, and closed loopholes that allow foreign entities to buy campaign ads.”
Walberg: “Well, the ACLU and I stood together on that; took away First Amendment liberties. It took away non-partisan FEC, Federal Election Commission, that’s a 3-3 split, and put it to a 5-2 split. That’s a concern. That becomes partisan. It took away certain – it expanded the numbers of statements that could be made that could be considered political in a campaign. That’s amazing. It gave taxpayer dollars, as long as you didn’t give more than 200 dollars, it matched what you gave, 6-to-1 from taxpayer dollars.”
Constituent, woman: “That’s from corporations, who have been fined against improper donations.”
Walberg: “So now you’re gonna-”
Constituent, woman: “It’s not taxpayer dollars!”
Walberg: “- you’re gonna defend the fact of having more corporation involvement in campaigning? Now that’s why I voted against this bill, and a number of other reasons. It’s a terrible bill. It took away protections for legal ballots. It said that you could vote of course, at any time up to the election day, not having a legal affidavit to prove who you were, but you could do it online with a picture. That picture may not have been you. Or, you could simply sign an affidavit. That signature may not have been the one you were signing for. You could harvest ballots under this provision, like they did in California, where seven members won on election eve, election night, last election, and within six weeks later they lost, because anyone – anyone could come in and bring a ballot, or a stack of ballots that they had selected, they had harvested from friends and neighbors, who allegedly had not been able to vote yet.”
Greg: “It worked well in North Carolina, didn’t it?”
Walberg: “It didn’t work well in North Carolina either.”
Walberg: “And that’s why we don’t need it for the rest of the country.”
Greg: “And yet you’re saying it will work! My point is, it won’t work. It’s been disproved again.”
Walberg: “The bottom line is, it won’t work.
Greg: “That’s right.”
Walberg: “And that’s why I voted against the bill. And that’s why I’m glad you and I agree on this one.”
Greg: That’s not what – I don’t agree! Don’t misquote me, sir!
Walberg: “That’s why the ACLU opposed it as well. Let’s go onto the next one.” [end of exchange]
Analysis of Response 13:
· Walberg disregarded the constituent’s question regarding closing loopholes for foreign entities buying campaign ads.
· Walberg’s responses to follow-ups were untruthful and condescending, “you’re gonna defend the fact of having more corporation involvement in campaigning? Now that’s why I voted against this bill”. Walberg categorically distorted the point that the constituent made. Furthermore, H.R. 1 did not allow for more corporate involvement in campaigns. So Walberg was untruthful about his own reason for opposing the bill.
· Walberg was untruthful about, “the ACLU and I stood together on that”, and falsely claimed that the ACLU shared several of his positions on specific measures in the bill. On March 6, 2019, the ACLU issued a 22-page letter to explain their position on H.R. 1.
§ ACLU “strongly supports” H.R.1’s ballot access proposals [exhibit below]. ACLU’s letter and the text of H.R. 1 said nothing about, “You could harvest ballots”.
§ Unlike Walberg, the ACLU opposed requiring photo IDs to vote.
§ The ACLU letter did not say anything about H.R.1’s proposed FEC reforms.
From the ACLU letter on H.R. 1, which supports the bill’s proposals on ballot access
· Walberg was untruthful about the FEC reforms proposed in H.R. 1, “It took away non-partisan FEC, Federal Election Commission, that’s a 3-3 split, and put it to a 5-2 split... That becomes partisan.”Currently, the FEC allows a maximum of three commissioners to be from the same party. H.R. 1 would reduce the total number of commissioners from 6 to 5, with a maximum of two commissioners to be from the same party. So, at any given time there would be at least three political parties represented on the commission. No one party could have a controlling majority, nor would a half-and-half partisan gridlock ever occur. For “a 5-2 split” to ever occur, it would require a total of 7 commissioners, with 5 of them from the same party, which would be structurally impossible under H.R.1.
· Walberg was untruthful about H.R.1 allowing people to vote, “online with a picture”. The text of H.R.1 said nothing about such a thing.
Q13) Effective Town Hall Rating: fails minimum standard
Reason: Walberg disregarded the question, was untruthful, and condescending.
QUESTION 14) Rep. Hurd border - 40:20
“Have you ever spoken with Representative Will Hurd, a Republican of the 23rdCongressional District of Texas? He represents voters living in a District that includes the longest section of the U.S./Mexican border. He has stated that there is no emergency, and a wall is not necessary. Why do you think it is?”
Walberg: “Because it is, and it is because the people who actually take care of the country – and Will Hurd’s district – I know Will, we’re good friends, and a good portion of his district doesn’t need a wall. He would tell you the portions of his district that do need a wall. And his response to this, the questions of people saying: Do we need a wall on the entire border? – No. We don’t need a wall on the entire border. We need where it needs to be. And that’s all the President’s doing by going to Customs and Border Patrol [sic], Homeland Security agents and leaders and asking them: Where is it needed, and whadd’ya need? That’s where he got the 7 billion dollar price tag. And that’s where he got the 8 billion dollar price tag that he’s offering now in this new legislation. It’s going to take more than that to do the entire border where it’s needed. But he’s taking it in component parts. We can only build so much. And we are building. We have been building. President Obama built. President Bush built walls. And only because the President’s name is Trump, right now, is there any opposition to it.”
Constituents, assorted: “No.” “Not true!” [Walberg dismissively ignored the dissent in the room, and turned to the moderator for the next question. End of exchange.]
Analysis of Response 14:
· Context: Will Hurd (TX-23) appeared the previous morning, on CNN’s State of the Union talk show, opposing the National emergency that Trump declared on February 15, 2019, because it unconstitutionally disregarded Congressional appropriations. Hurd supported funding more border wall, but opposed Trump’s national emergency.
Link to transcript: http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1903/10/sotu.01.html
· Walberg disregarded the question about why Hurd opposed Trump’s emergency.
· Walberg was untruthful to say that Trump listened to border officials’ requests, “And that’s where he got the 8 billion dollar price tag”. Trump’s price tag nearly doubled in just a few weeks. It was 5 billion dollars when Trump caused the worst government shutdown in U.S. history. And before that, Trump’s campaign promise was that the U.S. would not pay for a border wall.
· Walberg was untruthful, dismissive, divisive, and condescending to claim that “any opposition” is, “only because the President’s name is Trump”. Which further disregarded the nuanced example from the original question regarding Rep. Will Hurd.
Q14) Effective Town Hall Rating: fails minimum standard
Reason: Walberg disregarded the question, was untruthful, dismissive, divisive, and condescending.
QUESTION 15) Political divide - 42:00
“Given the divisiveness in partisan politics that seem to be increasing in our country, what are you personally doing to address this problem so that Congress actually does the job they were hired to do?”
[Abridged transcript, marked with ellipses. See video for full 2:15 response]
Walberg: “They say in congress, they say there are work horses and show horses. My effective rating was based upon being a work horse. You’re not seeing me on a lot of national media. We don’t attempt to be on national media. Local media’s a different story, cause I think the people oughtta hear me, the people who I represent. But the effective rating came cause we did work in a bipartisan fashion.”
“My Democrat colleagues know exactly where I can come down and where I can’t. And if they don’t know that, they ask me. And if they find a position where we can come together on, we come together on. That’s why Dan Kildee received support from me, and other members, at least a majority of members of our Republican delegation on the Flint water issue. That’s why we worked together on – on the, uh, Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, and are able to fully fund that, and continue to do it. I bet this budget, the President’s budget this year, it will have full funding in it this time.He’s heard from us. We worked together on it.”
“But there are things we can’t work together on. I’m not gonna work together on infanticide…”
[For the next 1:10 Walberg strayed from the constituent’s question to list out the divisive and untrue things that he refused to work with his colleagues on]
Walberg: “…So, where we can work together, we work together. And uh, it seems to be workin’.” [End of response]
Analysis of Response 15:
· Walberg disregarded the question, what was he, “personally doing” to address divisiveness in Congress. Instead Walberg untruthfully and divisively smeared his colleagues about, “infanticide”. There is no pro-infanticide legislation in Congress.
· Walberg was untruthful that, “the effective rating came cause we did work in a bipartisan fashion.” None of their 15 metrics used in the rating had anything to do with bipartisanship. Link to Methodology: https://thelawmakers.org/methodology
· It was untruthful for Walberg to say, “We don’t attempt to be on national media. Local media’s a different story, cause I think the people oughtta hear me, the people who I represent.” Walberg does selectively do national media on extreme far-right outlets. As recently as April 3, 2019, Walberg called into Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council radio show, which is designated by the SPLC as a Hate Group. In that call, Walberg complained that the LGBT community was “trying to put themselves in a place where they take MORE RIGHTS, and put those of us who don’t agree with them down.” – Audio (10:20 mark): https://www.frc.org/get.cfm?i=LR19D03
· It was untruthful for Walberg to say, “Dan Kildee received support from me, and other members, at least a majority of members of our Republican delegation on the Flint water issue”. The Flint water crisis was not one issue, and has not been resolved. For six years, Dan Kildee (MI-05) has continued introducing more bills to address the Flint water crisis. Walberg only ever supported one of those bills, H.R.4470 (2016).
· Walberg was untruthful about Trump’s budget having, “full funding” for the GLRI. Moments after Walberg said that, Trump’s budget was released which tried to ruin the GLRI by taking away 90% of its funding [exhibit below].
Contrary to Walberg’s ‘bet’, Trump’s budget tried to ruin the GLRI
Q15) Effective Town Hall Rating: fails minimum standard
Reason: Walberg disregarded the question, was untruthful, and divisive.
QUESTION 16) Walberg’s direct sellers bill, by Me - 44:45
“This past October, you introduced the “Preserving Direct Sellers Independence Act”. Can you explain how that legislation was written, and what its purpose was? And why did no other Members of Congress in the Direct Sellers Caucus ever cosponsor it?”
Walberg: “Direct Sellers Act, it was in my committee. I sponsored it – co-sponsored it because it dealt with the issues of concern to direct sales, whether it’s Amway, or whether it’s um, - what the uh, – Jenny Craig. A number of direct sellers that are in this country that people find great benefit from. Reducing unnecessary burdens upon them, to carry on the work that they do. And any member of Congress has the opportunity to sponsor any bill that they choose to sponsor. We don’t sponsor every bill that we end up voting on as well. And for that reason, being that I represent Michigan, that has one of the premier Direct Sponsors in the nation, that being Amway, and other component parts of it, we certainly help those that have legitimate concerns and needs, from our frame of reference.”
Constituent, man: “And donate money to your campaign.”
Walberg: [shrugs shoulders] “Eh – I’ve never hid that.”
Me: “I asked, how was that legislation written?”
Walberg: “How was it written? What do you mean?”
Me: “Did the Direct Sellers Association write that, and then you just introduced it, or -?” [Interruption]
Walberg: “No. No. It always has to go through drafting - bill drafting in the House. It has to meet the correct parts of the bill – language. No. I’ve never had a bill that was handed to me from – whether it’s Farm Bureau, or whether it was from a Direct Sellers, or whether it’s from insurance industry for annuities for retirement savings, um, whether it was from NRA. It comes - it comes – ideas come, and then we put the idea together to meet the need.”
Me: “You were the only sponsor of that legislation. There was no other cosponsors on it. So, you wrote it yourself? Or, how did –?” [Interruption]
Walberg: “No. We worked with drafters, bill drafters - committee staff, and bill drafters. Let’s go to the next question.” [End of exchange]
Analysis of Response 16
· Walberg’s very first sentence in that response was untruthful, “Direct Sellers Act, it was in my committee.”, as well as his claim that it was drafted by, “committee staff”. That bill never emerged from, nor has it been taken up for discussion by any of the House Committees. A press release from the lobbyist group, Direct Sellers Association (DSA) explained that they were the ones who “collaborated with” Walberg on the “introduction” of the bill [see document below].
Direct Sellers Association Press Release citing Walberg’s bill as a lobbying victory
· Walberg disregarded my question, and was dismissive. As the lone sponsor, that bill was entirely a Walberg-brand product, yet Walberg failed to answer about its “purpose”. Walberg just did a general riff on the topic of multi-level marketing. It was as though Walberg had no involvement with his own bill. So, I maintain that the bill was drafted by the DSA lobby, and the extent of Walberg’s collaboration was his willingness to take the bill to the House floor for the DSA lobby.
Later Developments: On June 26, 2019 Walberg quietly reintroduced this bill with identical text - no press releases - no floor speeches. So, he must understand that it is toxic legislation. If Walberg believed that the bill was good for constituents, then he would champion it proudly.
Q16) Effective Town Hall Rating: fails minimum standard
Reason: Walberg disregarded my question, and was untruthful, and dismissive.
QUESTION 17) Gun safety ideas, by Rachel from Dexter - 47:15
“We brainstormed a list of ideas for studying gun violence and improving gun safety in this country together after the Parkland shooting in February of 2018. What actions have you taken towards the ideas we generated together?”
[Abridged transcript, marked with ellipses. See video for full 1:30 response]
Walberg: “Um, I remember that list on the white board. I don’t remember every specific point. But we passed a major package for gun safety, and opposition to gun violence in this country. Which included what I mentioned earlier, the funding that goes to the states and the local communities, local school districts that can be used for putting in place what is necessary to prevent something like Parkland: training of individuals as well as operational issues and component parts...” [Walberg said different schools need different security / claimed majority of mass shooters “had mental health issues”, so he “upped the support for mental health”] “The Bills that were passed in the House, and happily will not pass the Senate, but were passed in the House just two weeks ago would not have done anything for any of those school shootings, theater shootings, church shootings – nothing. It wouldn’t have prevented any of those people who had those guns from still having those guns.” [End of Response]
Analysis of Response 17
· Walberg’s response disregarded Rachel’s question about the list that was generated on February 20, 2018. Walberg said that he didn’t “remember every specific point”, but then failed to address ANY specific points from the list.
· Walberg was untruthful to say that the “major package” that Congress passed after Parkland, was “for gun safety”. The bill, Stop School Violence Act of 2018, became wrapped up into H.R. 1625, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, and it was not about gun safety, but rather for school security. The text of the bill, says it provided funds for schools, up to $75-million per year through 2028, “to improve security, including the placement and use of metal detectors and other deterrent measures”. So, that “major package” produced a market boom of bleak, demoralizing products to sell to schools in exchange for a slice of those appropriations, driven by the ongoing prevalence of gun violence in US schools [exhibit below]:
Bleak, demoralizing products fueled by Government funds and ongoing gun violence in schools
· Walberg was untruthful and divisive to say that the House’s gun safety bills, “would not have done anything for any of those school shootings, theater shootings, church shootings – nothing”. Those bills would have done something. If Walberg knows something that would work better, than he has the responsibility to produce it.
Background Context on the Question: Rachel’s question at Dexter was a follow-up to a question that she asked one year before, right after the gun massacre at the high school in Parkland. In response, Walberg pulled out a white board to list out constituents’ ideas:
Video (10:20 – 28:00): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CypY-tP1Hp4
· Rachel’s question from February 20, 2018, in Northfield Township:
“What types of legislation would you support to improve gun safety and school safety? Will you support tighter rules for licensing and background checks?”
Walberg: “Let’s try it this way. [lifts up white board and sets it on the easel] Carly [Walberg’s Senior Legislative Correspondent], could you help me out, please? Let’s have a brainstorming session. Give me some ideas on how we can protect kids in the schools better than we can now.”
§ Walberg seemed to listen, while he stood to the side and constituents talked. However, I think Walberg just used the white board like a shield to let constituents project their frustrations onto. That way, Walberg could passively run out the clock, appear interested, and avoid saying anything that would expose himself to criticism.
After 18-minutes, Walberg cut off the constituents who still wanted to discuss the topic. Walberg moved on to other submitted questions without addressing the ideas on the white board. Furthermore, Walberg never answered Rachel’s original question that had prompted the whole 18-minute white board stunt.
Cross Reference: School security was brought up earlier in Question 6.
Q17) Effective Town Hall Rating: fails minimum standard
Reason: Walberg disregarded the question, was untruthful, dismissive, and divisive.
QUESTION 18) Background check bill - 49:10
“What is your reasoning for voting no on H.R. 8, when the majority of Americans, including gun owners believe that stronger background checks are needed for every gun purchase?”
[Abridged exchange, marked with ellipses. See video for full 4:00 exchange]
Walberg: “Uh, none of the background checks in that bill would have stopped any of those shooters.
Constituent, woman: “But they may have stopped a future shooter.”
Walberg: “They would not have stopped those shooters, or any others like them to come. We have background checks already. In fact, these background checks made it more difficult. For instance, if one of your neighbors had a restraining order against a partner, fiancé, lover, or husband who was committing domestic violence that was ratcheting up to the point that he, or she felt that they needed to have a weapon, this legislation would have expanded the waiting time from three-days, on up to potentially 20-days for that person to get a gun to protect themselves. It also would have, if that was my neighbor, and she came to me saying, ‘I am fearful for my life-’[Walberg stops himself and points to Greg in the back of the room] - I’d like you all to turn around and see this gentleman here.”
Greg: “That’s right!” [Greg had been silently holding a sign that said, ‘Low IQ’.]
Walberg: “These are the signs that he holds up. And that’s the type of – the reason why we do the town halls like we do. Uh so, the ‘Low IQ’, uh, it’s referring to me, as I try to answer your question.”
Greg: “That’s right! You don’t understand the intent of the law, and what happens to the world.” [Some attendees shooshed Greg.]
Walberg: “So what it would have done, what it would have done is made it impossible for me to loan my gun to my neighbor. To say, until you finish your background check of three days presently, which would now be ten to twenty days, and you have that paper, that restraining order, and you believe humanly-speaking that that piece of paper is not going to stop an attack from this individual who keeps coming, and has shown evidence that he, or she does not care about the restraining order…”
[Discussion continued for two minutes about Walberg’s example with the neighbor, gun show loopholes, and concluded with the following exchange:]
Walberg: “So, folks, what we need to do is use the law that we have, the laws effectively that we have, in going after the perpetrators of these crimes, and we can do that, but we can’t do what this legislation that is only for one purpose, and that’s to remove guns from law-abiding citizens. Next question.”
Moderator: “The, um, I’m told we’re running short on time.”
Walberg: “I’d add one other point: change The Constitution. Do away with the Second Amendment, if you want to go to that direction.”
Greg: “How about interpreting it correctly? It says well-regulated militia, Let’s pay attention to the words that they put in.”
Constituent, man: [Turned around to Greg] “Like you know what a well-regulated militia was!”
[Walberg looked on and chuckled, satisfied with the conflict that he had instigated]
Analysis of Response 18:
· Walberg disregarded the question about why he voted in opposition to the majority of Americans, including gun owners.
· Walberg’s scenario for opposing H.R. 8, was untruthful, because it was precisely contradicted by the actual language in the bill. The bill allowed for lending firearms to neighbors threatened by domestic violence. Not only that, but the bill also allowed gun owners to lend their firearms to friends for sporting, hunting, and more.
Walberg’s reason for opposing H.R. 8, is proven false by the text of the bill itself
· It was untruthful, divisive, and condescending for Walberg to provoke the room into conflict against one constituent Greg, and falsely blame his sign holding for why Walberg had imposed so many constraints at his coffee hours, “These are the signs that he holds up. And that’s the type of – the reason why we do the town halls like we do.” - that referred back to Question One, about restricting follow-up questions. Sign-holding is explicitly allowed for in Walberg’s own Event Rules [document below].
Walberg interrupted himself to divide all of the constituents against one constituent
Walberg’s Rules, shown on the back of the question card of the Dexter event, allow sign-holding
“I was happy that he had everyone take notice of my presence since most people in the room had not noticed my signs prior to that moment. However, I do think he was being rather disingenuous in order to try to turn the room against me. He called attention to my "low IQ" sign but never said a word about the "Uninformed" or "Dishonest" signs that were used far more frequently. I will continue to use all the signs when attending in hopes that he calls me out similarly in the future. I think that it is interesting that he has already once publicly admonished that term from me when DJT has used it repeatedly to refer to his colleague Maxine Waters and also to our former VP Biden. Has he spoken out against that use of the exact same term? Or is he a hypocrite?”
- Reflection from Greg (March 26, 2019)
Walberg tried to divde room against constituent, Greg for holding a sign that quoted Trump
Q18) Effective Town Hall Rating: fails minimum standard
Reason: Walberg disregarded the question, was untruthful, divisive, and condescending.
QUESTION 19) Mueller / Impeachment - 53:30
“If the Mueller report comes back indicating that Trump is involved in crimes, will you hold him accountable, and possibly vote to impeach?”
Walberg: “If it comes back that he was involved in crimes? Absolutely. I do not support any elected official that has been proven, not simply indicted, but proven under a court of law as any of us deserve, that he’s perpetrated crimes. Absolutely. Why wouldn’t I? Why wouldn’t I?”
Constituent, man: “Cause you’re a Republican.”
Walberg: “But you know something, uh, Republicans are law-abiding like Democrats, as well. Uh, I will stand with the law. Um, and I hope the Mueller report comes out soon. Over two years, a lot of money spent, and so far no Russia collusion. [A bit of a tittering uproar] No. And that’s what it was about. No Russia collusion.”
Greg: “If the report’s not out, how do you know that? Do you have insider information?”
[Walberg was dismissive of that follow-up question, and turned toward to the Moderator.]
Moderator: “I’ve been told we’re out of time.” [End of exchange.]
Analysis of Response 19:
· Walberg disregarded the question about holding Trump “Accountable”. Impeachment was just one option for that. The question also said, “indicating”, meaning to suggest, not, “indicting”, meaning to legally prosecute. Walberg deflected to talk about the President being “indicted” and, “proven under a court of law”, which is an impossible threshold for impeachment. Mueller operated according to a Justice Department memo that stated it is unconstitutional to indict a sitting President.
· Walberg was untruthful in saying the Special Counsel had been going, “Over two years” and that “Russia collusion” was “what it was about”.
§ It was not two years, the order for the Special Counsel was signed on May 17, 2017, and Mueller submitted a letter of completion on March 22, 2019.
§ The order for the special counsel said nothing about investigating “collusion”. The Mueller Report addressed the term on Page 180: “collusion is not a specific offense or theory of liability found in the U.S. Code” So even if Mueller’s team found “collusion”, it would not be prosecutable. It was just a distracting term.
· Walberg was dismissive toward a relevant follow-up question.
Q19) Effective Town Hall Rating: fails minimum standard
Reason: Walberg disregarded the question, and was untruthful and dismissive.
QUESTION 20) Global Fund - 54:45
“Representative Walberg, concerning the Global Fund request, will you speak or write to Representative Rodgers on the Foreign Operations subcommittee? He’s requesting 1.56 billion appropriation on the fiscal year budget of 2020. This request aligns with President Trump’s goal of eliminating HIV/Aids, as stated in his State of the Union Address. The Global Fund has successfully reduced Aids and Malaria around the globe since its inception under President Bush. It’s a modest increase with significant payoff.”
Walberg: “I’ll speak to him, absolutely. That’s generally how we do it. We don’t sign letters on appropriations issues.But I’ll speak to him.” [End of response]
Analysis of Response 20:
· Walberg disregarded the question, “concerning the Global Fund”. Walberg did not share any concerns on the issue, whether he would support the funding, or even which way he was leaning.
· Walberg was untruthful that, “We don’t sign letters on appropriations issues”. As recently as January 15, during the worst government shutdown in U.S. history, Walberg signed onto a letter urging Trump, “to publicly commit to veto any appropriations bill” that contained money that could end up going to Planned Parenthood. So, rather than working to end the shutdown, Walberg was busy laying groundwork for a future government shutdown:
Letter on Appropriations that Walberg signed onto two months prior
· Walberg also signed onto several letters about cutting appropriations for the ACA, during the years-long buildup to the government shutdown in October 2013:
Letters on appropriations that Walberg signed in the years-long leadup to the 2013 shutdown
Cross Reference: Note the similarity to Walberg’s untrue claim from Question 8, about, “not signing onto letters that affect specific committees that I serve on”.
Q20) Effective Town Hall Rating: fails minimum standard
Reason: Walberg disregarded the question, and was untruthful.
WALBERG’S WRAP UP) 55:40
Federalist Papers / Creator of the Universe / Being in the Minority
[Full concluding remarks:]
Walberg: “I always try to end this way: That we’re Americans. Aren’t we?”
Constituent, woman: “Thank you for posting a little bit in advance this time, so we actually knew you were having the meeting. Can you do that on a regular basis?” [Walberg ignored her]
Walberg: “We’re Americans. We have our disagreements, very clearly, but still the greatest nation on the earth. God has blessed us. And key principles were put in place at the inception of this country. I’d encourage each of you to go look up the Federalist Papers. Read the Federalist Papers, unless you’re not American, or don’t care about America. You’ll be amazed. You will be amazed at the wisdom of these founders. They debated everything we’re debating today, including health care, including the Federal banking system, including uh - military engagement, foreign affairs, all of that. They deliberated, and they came up with the genius of our Constitution, for reasons that have effectively kept this nation going and growing unlike any other place in the earth.”
“We also had a set of values, set of values that were set into the universe by the creator of the universe, that when we walk away from that – and in this country, you don’t have to believe in the creator of the universe, that’s the beauty of this country, but the founders did. And that’s why they designed this government the way it works. And it’s worked pretty well. Let’s not screw it up.”
“Let’s debate it. Let’s consider, but let’s be very, very careful about walking very far away from what that amazing Constitution with its first ten Amendments, The Bill of Rights implemented for us, regardless of our belief, lack of belief, our position, our political party, where we live in the country. It was designed in a way that would benefit this country the best, and I think it has, and I don’t get my way in every case.”
“I’m serving in the minority now. I did that my first term. I didn’t like it then. I don’t like it now, but that’s America. And I’m going to work my best to still be the most effective member of the Michigan delegation, the most effective member if at all possible in the entire Republican delegation, to impact this country for what’s best. So, [sharp exhale]again, thanks for being here, and uh, hope to see you again.” [End of event]
Analysis of Walberg’s Wrap Up
· Walberg was dismissive, toward the constituent woman who thanked him and asked for more advance notice of his upcoming coffee hours.
· Walberg was untruthful that, “You will be amazed at the wisdom of these founders.” James Madison, who coauthored the Federalist Papers, never expressed remorse for enslaving massive numbers of people on his family’s plantation for his entire life. In Federalist 54 Madison argued for, “the three-fifths compromise”, to account for enslaved people as less than human, tradable commodities, which was not, “wisdom”.
· Walberg was untruthful that in the Federalist Papers, “They debated everything we’re debating today, including health care”. Nothing related to health care was discussed in The Federalist Papers. Also the words “Woman”, “Women”, “Schools”, and “Teachers” and any variation of those words were absent in the Federalist Papers.
· It was untruthful for Walberg, who spent the hour disregarding questions, and shutting down constituents from trying to engage in discussion with him, to then underhandedly toss out an invitation to, “Let’s debate it”, as he essentially had one foot out the door.
WRAP UP) Effective Town Hall Rating: fails minimum standard
Reason: Walberg’s wrap-up was dismissive, and untruthful.
I hope this report helped to articulate and substantiate the bad feelings that a lot of constituents have felt after attending Walberg’s coffee hours. The one Ideal response that Walberg delivered was not a high bar achievement. Walberg could keep doing that and win favor with a lot more constituents.
This Dexter event was not an anomaly. Walberg always performs this badly. Walberg is not an a outlier in Congress either. After I created this scale, I watched dozens of Congressional town hall videos from other Representatives whose responses routinely failed to achieve the minimum level. Let’s not lower our expectations though. We should keep pressuring our elected officials to do better, and keep electing better officials.
Coda: Pinning Down a Fraud
At a coffee hour in 2016, Walberg proudly told a story about committing fraud with his high school wrestling team [exhibit below]:
Video (36:45 mark): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVqdinslTiE
In the moment, a thought begins to form, “Wait, so Walberg proudly admitted to a systematic wrestling fraud and compared it to what he does now in Congress? Did I miss something?” Before that question could fully take shape, Walberg had already switched over to a different topic. There was no time to say, “Hang on, what’s the deal with that wrestling story?” Teams have gotten suspended for entire seasons over lesser offenses than that. Wrestlers are not even supposed to be dehydrated during weigh ins.
“My only responsibility was not to get pinned… And that’s Congress, at times.”
Avoiding getting pinned for fraud, is the exact opposite of, “responsibility”, Congressman.
Back in the day, Walberg’s wrestling opponents probably walked away thinking, “Something felt wrong about that guy. That set didn’t feel legitimate.” And that is how Walberg’s coffee hours feel.
So, I hope that the length of this report felt purposeful, by exploring each point of the event. I hope that it also delivered some satisfaction for my fellow disaffected constituents, by pinning down one slippery old fraud, Tim Walberg.
Thank you for reading,
February 18, 2020
· Article about the Dexter Coffee Hour on We Love Dexter:
· Other Video of the full Dexter Coffee Hour:
Part 1 of 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CeSbYkKDU7A
Part 2 of 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wkxqJs2ylQ
Part 3 of 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaCyopzIgs0
· April 3, 2019 - Letter to the Editor, by Kim from Dexter
The Sun Times News [Chelsea, Dexter, Manchester, Saline]
Representative Tim Walberg (Congressional District 7) Does Not Listen To His Constituents And Is Divisive.
I attended Mr. Walberg’s coffee hour in Dexter on Monday, March 11, at 9:30 am. He makes it difficult to attend his open meetings. He invites a select few constituents by written invitation. The vast majority of the meetings are on weekday mornings and are announced on his website shortly before they occur, making attendance by most working constituents impossible. Because of my work schedule, I was able to attend this meeting and have attended a few others. I have learned of each of them by word of mouth and at the last minute.
Mr. Walberg does not allow his constituents to speak at his open meetings. Attendees are required to write questions on postcards which are then read by a moderator, who can filter them as he or she chooses or is instructed. Luckily, at the Dexter meeting, the moderator was Judge Karl Fink, who read each postcard verbatim. When a question is posed, Mr. Walberg gives his response. Follow up or discussion of his answer is not allowed, not even by the person who wrote the question, and not even when the response given by Mr. Walberg contains misleading or untrue information. When a constituent does try to speak up, Mr. Walberg will use his microphone to speak over the top of that person. This is very frustrating. As a result, constituents sometimes resort to shouting or holding signs that indicate their feelings about his response. For example, at the Dexter meeting one postcard indicated that the person had seen an increase in her taxes this year, despite being on a fixed income. Mr. Walberg dismissed the premise, denying her experience, calling it unusual. Multiple people tried to speak up to indicate they had had the same experience, and someone asked for a show of hands, but Mr. Walberg spoke over the top of the audience and changed the subject. I have witnessed him react the same dismissive way when people try to tell him their reliance on the Affordable Care Act, on Planned Parenthood, and on net neutrality, to name a few occurrences. Not surprisingly, there are often people in the audience who know quite a bit more about a given subject than Mr. Walberg, but he will not let them speak. On more than one occasion, I have watched constituents leave in anger because he will not listen.
His tactics are divisive. He frequently uses hot button words and insensitive comments. He will introduce a divisive subject, that thoughtful, intelligent, caring people can have different views on, and does not allow discussion. At the Dexter meeting, it was Mr. Walberg, not a constituent, who brought up the subject of abortion, but only his opinion was voiced. He makes statements that many in the audience know to be untrue or misleading. Because he will not let us speak and will not listen, people become frustrated and angry. Those who agree with him become frustrated and angry at the people who are trying to be heard. The atmosphere is tense and unfriendly by the end. He has been asked by many people on many occasions, including via his mandatory postcards, to let his constituents speak but he has refused.
In contrast, I also attend the Dexter Forum. These are twice monthly meetings on Saturday mornings that are well attended, open to anyone, scheduled on a regular basis, and moderated by John Hansen and Karl Fink, Democrat and Republican respectively. These meetings are always interesting and people on both sides speak and listen to each other. There is no shouting or sign holding, because we all have an opportunity to speak on any subject. Those who know more about a subject, either by education, profession, or personal experience, are encouraged to give their opinions and to inform the rest of us. We do not all come to agreement, but our community is strengthened by the open exchange of information, ideas, and opinions. The atmosphere is warm and congenial.
In this time of polarization, we need more listening and more inclusiveness. In our communities, we have much more in common with each other than differences. I recently heard Representative Will Hurd (Texas Republican) in an interview say he represents all the people in his district – those who voted for him, those who voted against him, and those who didn’t vote at all. We need a representative who will do the same, not a representative who only wants your donation and your vote, not your input. We deserve a representative who lets us speak and brings us together, not Mr. Walberg who refuses to listen and continues to divide us.
[Kim from Dexter]
Dexter Township, precinct 3