From “Concerned Citizens of VA 7th USA”
A hypocrite. That what the Richmond Times Dispatch’s recent story revealed Congressman Dave Brat to be. The article showed that while Brat was calling his own constituents “paid protestors,” he was paying a woman from Texas who spent her time intimidating and trolling constituents on his campaign Facebook page. Concerned Citizens of VA 7th U.S.A. are deeply troubled by the ongoing deceptive, divisive tactics used and sanctioned by Dave Brat and his manipulation of First Amendment rights.
Over the last two years, Congressman Brat’s campaign paid Texas media consultant Sarah James over $100,000 to manage his entire media campaign, which includes divisive posts from sources of questionable repute that promote conspiracies and partisan politics. Brat knowingly allowed James to “troll” his constituents on his campaign page–insulting them, calling them names, threatening to contact their places of businesses, and more. James not only posted as Brat, but also deleted posts from constituents that criticized her. James’ power to delete comments came from Brat himself, but nowhere on the site does Brat or his campaign staff acknowledge that James is paid to manage conversations. In short, Brat’s paid surrogate used her power—under his watch—to shut down the speech of Brat’s unpaid constituents.
While Brat and James’ actions do not violate any laws, they do violate democratic principles and demonstrate an ongoing low ethical standard. First, Brat has repeatedly attempted to control speech at engineered townhalls in ways that limit the input of his constituents. Then, in the weeks leading up to the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Brat defended key rally speaker Richard Spencer’s First Amendment right to free speech without condemning his racist rhetoric (see attached letter). VA 7th U.S.A. holds the freedom of speech in high esteem as well, which is why we are shocked that Brat actively tries to control the speech of his constituents, defends Spencer’s unfettered speech, and pays a surrogate who spends her time intimidating his unpaid constituents. Brat’s interpretation of free speech is better aligned with the Russian goal of managing public opinion that the American ideal of listening to and respecting people. We will not ignore or tolerate this behavior.
VA 7th U.S.A. is a grassroots organization whose volunteers are United in Service and Action. Our mission is to inform citizens of the 7th Congressional District about legislation that affects them and fight regressive politics through service and action in the community. We advocate for truth in legislation and honesty and integrity in leaders.