My name is Heather Lewis, I’m a mother, nurse and a novice activist. I started the Indivisible group in Flower Mound in January. I’ve always followed politics but was never really active. The only thing I’ve ever done in my life that could be considered “activism” is I participated in phone banking for Kerry and Obama. I also attended the ’04 vice presidential debates at Case Western Reserve because it was in my hometown and I was opposed to Bush. My first March or Rally was the Women’s March after the inauguration. I don’t get paid to run the Flower Mound Indivisible group, I do it in my spare time because I’m worried about the future of this country for my children.
I attended a forum that Dr. Burgess was speaking at UT Dallas and met one of his staffers. I had a sign about protecting the Affordable Care Act and had a long discussion with his staffer, Eric With. We had a very productive conversation, I explained to him that I studied health care policy in the UK and worked as a nurse for over a decade. I told him that I recently moved to Texas from Ohio, that Gov. Kasich expanded Medicaid in our state, and I noticed a positive difference as a healthcare professional after the expansion. I told him I wanted to find compromise with Rep. Burgess on this issue. After the encounter, I called Burgess’s office multiple times requesting a Town Hall and many members of the Denton and Flower Mound Indivisible groups also called because of worry of the ACA being repealed.
We did not get a date from Burgess’s office for a town hall and when he refused to hold one over the recess I put together a rally at his office on Tuesday the 21st. A few hours after I posted the event on Denton and Flower Mound’s pages, Bud Porter and I received an email offering a meeting with Rep. Burgess on Monday the 20th.
Bud and I accepted the invitation and received a lot of flack from members in both groups for not moving up the rally to Monday since it was a holiday and people felt that we could get a larger turn out. Bud and I decided that we would give Rep. Burgess the chance to schedule a Town Hall and didn’t want him to feel ambushed. Ambushing him was not our goal, our goal was to have a town hall so concerned constituents could share their worries and stories with him.
We originally were hoping to speak to him about the ACA, but the Russia/Flynn story broke and we felt that Rep Burgess’s stance on an investigation was more pressing. Since Monday was a holiday, I had to bring my 7- and 8-year-old boys to the meeting. I felt Bud and I were very respectful and really conveyed our worry about the issues. We asked multiple times for a town hall and Rep. Burgess stated that we only wanted one so we could “scream at him and get him on camera being escorted out by police.” I assured him that was not the case and that he had very worried constituents waiting to ask him questions. At the end of the meeting I asked him to please put his country over party. I didn’t mean to, but I hit a nerve. He slammed his fists on the table and told me that he always puts country first. I politely explained to him that lately, many of his statements had been hyper-partisan which was concerning.
We held the rally the following day since he would not commit to a date for a town hall. We had about 45 members show up and go up to his office to give letters or explain to his staffers their concerns about Rep. Burgess’s statements and stances on issues.
The next day I spoke with a reporter with the DRC and explained why we had the rally. The next day his story was printed and in the story Lesley Fulop, Burgess’s communication spokesperson, was quoted as saying Bud and I are paid protesters. Bud and I never met in person until that meeting with Dr. Burgess. I was deeply hurt and offended to be falsely accused of being paid.
I’m out there practicing my first amendment right because I am genuinely scared and worried about the direction of this country. I feel that being called paid diminishes our movement and stances.
It also bothers me because it is false.
I have reached out to Burgess’s office EVERYDAY since the article came out and have not received any response. I posted a link to the article and demanded an apology on Lesley’s Twitter page and then was blocked. All I want is for Rep. Burgess to make a statement acknowledging that he does have worried constituents and that we are NOT paid. I would like him to apologize to me and Bud for his spokesperson making a false statement. I also gave Eric With a letter yesterday at a rally demanding an apology.
– Heather Lewis, Flower Mound
Editor’s note: We received a similar letter from Bud Porter, the other constituent mentioned in this story. Porter demanded that Burgess retract the accusation that he was a paid protestor.
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