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Louisiana Republican Speaker, Legislators Attempt to Intimidate Lockdown Opponents

There are petitions to recall governors and other elected officials all across the nation. People are desperate for Covid-19 mandates to be removed so that they can begin the healing process. Countless businesses are barely hanging on, if they’re not already closed for good. Children are not able to be kids as all normalcy has been ripped away regardless of data that shows they are not superspreaders. Our elderly loved ones are imprisoned and dying alone for the sake of “keeping them safe from Covid-19”.

These are some of the things that have motivated people to become actively involved in politics. More people are speaking to their elected officials. More people are sharing their thoughts on every platform possible. More people are speaking up and fighting back.

This does not sit well with some lawmakers. Louisiana citizens have complained that state representatives have them blocked from official pages or delete comments to censor constituents. Some constituents have received phone calls that seem to be more about intimidation than gaining understanding. Over the past seven months, elected officials have made it a goal to silence those who do not agree with remaining in lockdown for the sake of federal funding.

Just days before early voting began in Louisiana, I received an email to meet with Speaker of the House Clay Schexnayder.

Good morning Jamie, 

The Speaker would like to meet with you personally tomorrow,  October 14th, at 9:30 am in the Speaker’s Office on the first floor of the capitol. Please confirm if you will be able to attend.

Best Regards,
Gina Duhe

I declined the invitation. I knew from previous conversations that he had invited other people for the exact same time and date. This struck me as odd, as the email implied it was an individual meeting. Either this was a major scheduling conflict or there was something going on. Louisiana has petitions going around to recall both the governor and the speaker of the house. Being actively involved in both efforts, I could only assume I had ruffled feathers.

Hi Gina,

Unfortunately I can not make it on such short notice, but would be happy to communicate via email if he so chooses. I have work and will be preparing to go out of town. I do hope he changes his mind about the petitions and understands the importance in doing what it takes to reopen our state immediately. 

Thanks for reaching out,

Jamie Pope

On Wednesday, October 14th, I spoke with the four people who did attend this meeting. Their accounts confirmed my suspicion. This was not just a meeting with Speaker of the House Clay Schexnayder. This was a meeting with District 81 Representative Clay Schexnayder, District 65 Representative Barry Ivey, District 69 Representative Paula Davis, and District 71 Representative Buddy Mincey (and his wife). There were also assistants and someone referred to as “counsel”. Those present said that while these representatives and their staff kept their cellular devices, they insisted the constituents put theirs in a basket for the sake of not recording their conversation.

The meeting was said to be an attempt to answer any questions and ‘correct’ information. It turned out to be more like an interrogation. The focus was on getting names of those sharing information on social media. This is especially unsettling because Speaker Schexnayder recently kicked Representative Beryl Amedee out of the legislator apartments and moved her parking spot in retaliation for her communication with her constituents. He is punishing representatives for doing their job.

Louisiana has been shut down for seven months. Rather than do everything in their power to reopen the state, the Speaker of the House and his entourage are worried about how social media posts hurt their feelings. They had printouts of Facebook posts and comments made by those they invited to this meeting. The goal was clearly to shut people up and intimidate them. All that was accomplished was more motivation to recall those often referred to as “rinos”.

This is not the first time Speaker Schexnayder has held this kind of meeting with citizens. After hearing of this meeting with the four ladies, Michael Lunsford of Citizens for a New Louisiana published an account of his own ‘private’ meeting not long before that.

“When I was finally shown in, nearly ten minutes late, the speaker asked me to put my phone in a basket. Once done, his assistant scurried off with it. As expected, the meeting contained Speaker SchexnayderPro Temp Magee, and Ways and Means Chairman Stuart Bishop. Two surprise additions included Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jean-Paul Coussan and Commerce Committee Chairman Paula Davis. Apparently Mrs. Davis is a regular at these meetings, as she also attended the previously mentioned one with the four ladies.”

“Another recurring theme of the meeting was trying figure out, “where are you getting your information?” “

On October 20th, conservative political commentary site, The Hayride published an update, revealing they had received an audio recording of the meeting of the four citizens with Speaker Schexnayder and the other legislators.

“Then it got weird. Davis proceeded to ask the women where they get their information, and the legislators began berating the women about things that had been written about them on social media. Schexnayder hotly denied he was pals with Edwards or the governor’s puppet, which isn’t really the issue – the issue is that he’s been ineffective in countering Edwards, so much so that people are suspicious about that. That’s when Mincey jumped in and attacked Rep. Alan Seabaugh for having said he had 53 signatures on the petition (Seabaugh actually said he had verbal commitments and/or signatures from 53 people, commitments which went away when Schexnayder came out against it).

Mincey then began whining about how he had been called a RINO, and his argument that the charge was false was that it was made on the basis of his vote for Schexnayder as the Speaker, and he said he voted for Schexnayder essentially because Schexnayder treated him well.

… The meeting started to unravel at that point.”

On Wednesday, Louisiana conservative talk show host Moon Griffon interviewed three of the ladies who had been invited and attended the meeting with Speaker Schexnayder: Abby Crosby, Lee Ann Watson, and Shawn Wilson.

While the invitation seemed to indicate a one-on-one meeting with the Speaker, Shawn Wilson said, “Obviously it wasn’t a private meeting because there were 14 people in the room and we were the only ones that had to give up their devices.”

The purpose of the meeting quickly became apparent, according to Abby Crosby.

“Representative Buddy Mincey had printouts of our Facebook posts and he wanted to question us about them—stacks of them he was referring to—because he was called a rino, he was called a bully. It was really petty stuff.”

“They kept asking and pressuring us many many times—Where y’all getting y’all’s information from? Where’d y’all get that? Who gave that to y’all?”

Lee Ann Watson attempted to find some common ground in working with the legislators. The response? Be quiet.

“I literally said, ‘What can we as citizens do to help you? We’re here offering our help. We will push whatever we need to push on Facebook.’ And Clay’s answer to me was, whenever I said ‘what can we do to help you’—you know what the first thing he said was? ‘Stop posting on Facebook‘.”

Louisiana representatives have failed to advocate for their constituents suffering from the devastating effects of the lockdown. They have failed to stand up to Democrat governor John Bel Edwards, who recently stated, “I will surrender none of the authority that I have.” The citizens of Louisiana beg to differ.

By Jamie Marie Pope with contributions from Camellia Plosser.

 

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