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Protests Greet GOP Donors In Fort Worth

A Republican fundraiser brought a who’s who of Republican lawmakers to Fort Worth on Saturday, and it also attracted a couple hundred protesters. The demonstrators were part of a nationwide organizing effort to put pressure on GOP officials to hold town halls and get an earful from their constituents.

As well-heeled Republican donors arrived at the posh downtown Omni hotel for the Tarrant County GOP’s annual Lincoln Day fundraising gala, they were greeted by chants of “I want my town hall” and “Do your job.”

The chants were directed at the Republicans who represent Fort Worth in Congress. Jay Malone, the lead organizer for Indivisible DFW, said if they’re too busy meet with constituents in an open forum, they shouldn’t have the time to entertain donors.

“Kay Granger and Kenny Marchant have heard from their constituents asking for them to schedule a town hall, but they have refused to do it,” Malone said. “So what we are asking for is something as simple as for our representatives who we have elected to listen to us, to schedule town halls so they can hear our concerns and address them.”

Across the country, liberal activists have packed town halls held by Republican members of Congress. As a result, many are canceling or avoiding large public forums. Rep. Granger told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that she wasn’t surprised by Saturday’s protests, or that many signs were directed at her. She said she has no town hall events planned.

Outside the event, the protest signs pointed to a host of demands. Many urged lawmakers to keep Obamacare intact and protect immigrants and refugees, while others focused on state issues like the so-called bathroom bill backed by some Texas Republicans. Zip codes adorned many signs to prove the protesters were local.

“Many feel like they’re the only Democrats in Tarrant County, because Tarrant County’s a red county. We’re not a red county. We’re fuchsia,” said Leah Payne from the Tarrant County Democratic Women’s Club. “People are driving down the street, honking at us, showing their support for us. A lot of people didn’t even know that we’re here and now they know that they have support group in Tarrant County.”

Protesters also called on Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz to investigate President Trump’s ties to Russia. The House Oversight Committee Chairman was a featured speaker at the Tarrant County GOP gala.

Christopher Connelly is a reporter covering issues related to financial instability and poverty for KERA’s One Crisis Away series. In 2015, he joined KERA to report on Fort Worth and Tarrant County. From Fort Worth, he also focused on politics and criminal justice stories.