Sensenbrenner Asleep on Charlottesville?
Congressman’s explanations on this don’t seem to add up.
I am a constituent in Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner’s 5th Congressional District, and I was surprised to see he had released no statement about the violence in Charlottesville. So on Monday, August 14 I phoned Sensenbrenner’s Wisconsin office to ask about this, and the staff member who answered put me on hold for nearly a minute, then came back with information that “Sensenbrenner is working on a statement and it will come out this afternoon.”
So on Wednesday, August 16, out of curiosity I looked at Sensenbrenner’s official web site and saw his that statement on Charlottesville had been released, but was dated Saturday, August 12.
Three phone calls with three different staff members in his Congressional offices later in the day revealed increasingly conflicting explanations for the backdating.
I called the Wisconsin office first and asked a staff member about this discrepancy between their comments to me on Monday and the date on the statement. The staff member offered to have Nicole Tieman, freelance Communications Director, U.S. House of Representatives, get in touch with me. I am still waiting for that call.
I informed a staff member of the discrepancy. He offered to take my contact information and indicated he didn’t have an answer. I then called back a few minutes later to invite Sensenbrenner to address the discrepancy directly. The staff member now had an explanation: Their computer system had glitches on Monday that prevented the Wisconsin office from knowing that a written statement was available.
But couldn’t this staff member have simply phoned the D.C. office to find out the real story? And how did this staff member know Sensenbrenner was working on the statement if a computer glitch made communication between the offices impossible?
Next, I received a phone call from the head of the Wisconsin office, asking if she could help me with my concern related to Sensenbrenner’s statement. When I asked about the date discrepancy, she said that Nicole Tieman, the freelance Communications Director for the U.S. House of Representatives, had planned to upload the statement using her phone on Saturday, August 12, from her home where she was apparently confined due to illness. She was unable to perform this task because of a computer glitch. Therefore, it was delayed until Monday, the day I was originally told the computer glitch made communications impossible.
So an illness plus a computer glitch on two different days is offered to explain the problem with a series of conflicting stories. Perhaps the congressman needs to find a new computer expert. Meanwhile, it seems fair to say the issue didn’t have much urgency for Sensenbrenner and his staff.
As for the statement he finally released, it was pretty generic: “What happened in Charlottesville goes against the principles of this nation and everything I’ve worked for during my time in Congress. The freedoms given in this country should never be abused to incite violence or spread hate and prejudice. It’s my hope that as Americans, we can all come together to denounce bigotry in all its forms.”
And who are these people inciting violence and spreading prejudice? Sensenbrenner seems unwilling to say.
I’ve seen Sensenbrenner sitting on the sidelines way too often lately. He has far too often circumnavigated direct questions at town hall meetings about diversity and inclusion, on issues from transgendered individuals to immigration to healthcare.
What values does Jim Sensenbrenner hold? Does he believe all people are created equal, or did growing up with enormous wealth, as an heir to the Kimberly Clarke fortune, shield him from the realities of our multicultural society? Is that why he seems immune to putting out a fire when it is raging for all to see? I wanted leadership from my congressman on an event of tremendous importance to the nation. Instead I got lots of excuses and the feeling that Sensenbrenner was asleep on the issue.
Julie Henszey is a Wauwatosa resident, an executive coach and an outdoor adventure guide.
- Op Ed: Sensenbrenner Asleep on Charlottesville? - Julie Henszey - Aug 21st, 2017
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Read more about Charlottesville Virginia Violence here