Kyrsten Sinema: “Senators Need to Hear From Their Constituents”
We have audio of Kyrsten Sinema telling lobbyists how important it is to hear from constituents “early and often” months before she started ducking Arizonans’ questions.
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Months before Arizonans started filming Senator Kyrsten Sinema repeatedly refusing to answer their questions about her political positions, she told restaurant lobbyists about how important it is for senators to hear what their constituents have to say and for lawmakers to share their positions on issues and their reasoning.
“Senators need to hear from their constituents,” Sinema said in April. “Hearing from constituents early and often makes a world of difference. . . . You don’t want to assume that because someone is a Republican or because someone is a Democrat that you know exactly where they stand. They may have a public position on an issue, but it’s also that person’s job to represent his or her constituents. And you can provide them with key information to help them best represent their constituency.”
Urging constituents to “be polite,” Sinema continued: “There will be people who agree with you on an issue, there will also be people who disagree with you on an issue. My opinion is that that is normal and that is okay. But it’s always best to have a meeting so folks know what your position is and that you share with them the reason that you have this position. And having that meeting matters regardless of what the person’s opinion is on the issue overall.”
Sinema made the comments at the National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) annual public affairs conference, a virtual event designed to help restaurant owners effectively lobby lawmakers. The senator spoke with Sean Kennedy, the NRA’s executive vice president of public affairs, whose wife’s fundraising firm raises money for her campaign and leadership PAC. Sinema had recently helped block $15 minimum wage legislation in March, a key priority for the restaurant lobby.
“We Need to Hold You Accountable”
Now, six months later, Sinema is ignoring her own advice, refusing to hear from or speak with constituents who are concerned that she has emerged as a key roadblock for Democrats as they seek to pass key portions of President Joe Biden’s economic, climate, and health care agenda in a $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill.
Sinema hasn’t said much, if anything, publicly about what she does and doesn’t support in the legislation. She’s not hosting press conferences or town halls, and she isn’t talking to reporters in the halls of the Capitol.
Instead, her team has parceled out vague, anonymously sourced scooplets to Beltway news outlets about where she stands on policies that would help millions of people, such as allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices (she’s opposed) and expanding Medicare to cover dental, vision, and hearing services (she’s “less interested”).
On Friday, Sinema flew to Arizona in the middle of negotiations over the reconciliation bill because a spokesman said she had a doctor’s appointment for a foot injury. But while in Phoenix, she attended a fundraising retreat with donors at the Royal Palms Spa & Resort the following day. When constituents attempted to confront Sinema at the resort, she left via a back entrance, according to a video posted by activist group Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA).