Ozark Indivisible, the activist group that has been pressing members of Congress from Arkansas on health care, immigration and other issues, reported on its Twitter account last night that people calling Sen. Tom Cotton’s office had received cease-and-desist letters and posted the image above.
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This letter is immediate notification that all communication must cease and desist immediately with all offices of US Senator Tom Cotton.
All other contact will be deemed harassment and will be reported to the United States Capitol Police.
The Office of US Senator Tom Cotton.
I’ve placed a phone call and sent an email to Cotton’s press aide to ask if this is legitimate and, if so, what prompted the letter. She has not responded.
Billy Fleming, a Times contributor, also sent me a copy of the image and an account from a person who reportedly received the letter. That person wrote:
I received a letter from the office of U.S. Senator Tom Cotton from Arkansas after calling and expressing my grave concerns over his actions and support of this administration’s agenda concerning a wide variety of subjects from the attack on our healthcare, DACA and immigration issues, to national security, to the rise of white nationalist fascism, to the environment, the gutting of our State Department, the attack on the free press…and similar deeply troubling actions & motives I’ve seen Senator Cotton support & condone. It was odd to receive this letter as I’ve called other Members of Congress to express my strong thoughts and opinions about their actions and thought this to be not only my duty as an American citizen but my First Amendment right granted all U.S. citizens by our U.S. Constitution, the foundation of our Democracy.
I believe if Tom Cotton’s office were to respond as to why they sent this letter, I think they just honestly don’t want to listen to any citizen’s opposing view or hear the numerous grave concerns U.S. citizens have about the serious & ongoing attack on our Democracy and past election cycle in which a foreign, hostile Russian government interfered, they don’t want U.S. citizens to call and speak their mind and truth in a very direct manner and they obviously don’t want to be held accountable for their words and actions while serving all the people in this nation. I may have used unprofessional and unbecoming language at times as the anxiety and stress of what I’m witnessing is at times too great a burden to control and I have vehemently expressed my righteous anger at Senator Cotton’s complicitness with this harmful regime.
Fleming said he knew several people who’d received such a letter. He said he believed they all had made repeated phone calls to deliver similar talking points, but he said they were unlikely to have made rude or disparaging remarks.
The lobbying HAS gotten heated.
Circulating yesterday was the film of an effort some months ago by a Boone County activist to pose questions to Rep. Steve Womack. She was persistent. He was not amused.
Yesterday, demonstrators — self-identified as being from “shithole countries” — were asked to leave Cotton’s Washington office after a noisy encounter with staff members who told them they’d be arrested for unlawful entry if they didn’t leave. They did, chanting “Dream Act Now.”
Democracy can be a noisy thing. It seems to have some impact on members of Congress, too.
UPDATE: Cotton’s office, in keeping with custom, refused to respond to our requests for information. But Michael Buckner of KTHV was able to get a seeming
confirmation of the letter from Caroline Tabler, Cotton’s press aide.
Tabler said that these letters are rare and only used “under extreme circumstances.”
“If an employee of Senator Cotton receives repeated communications that are harassing and vulgar, or any communication that contains a threat, our policy is to notify the U.S. Capitol Police’s Threat Assessment Section,” Tabler said.
A spokesperson for Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said Thursday that cease and desist letters sent to an unspecified number of individuals in October were sent because staffers were being harassed and have nothing to do with activists who have been protesting outside the senator’s office this week or payback for constituents simply voicing opposing views.
Cotton’s communications director Caroline Rabbitt Tabler told the Washington Examiner the practice of sending these types of letters is “rare” and “only used under extreme circumstances” when previous warnings have not been successful.
“Senator Cotton is always happy to hear from Arkansans and encourages everyone to contact his offices to express their thoughts, concerns, and opinions. In order to maintain a safe work environment, if an employee of Senator Cotton receives repeated communications that are harassing and vulgar, or any communication that contains a threat, our policy is to notify the U.S. Capitol Police’s Threat Assessment Section and, in accordance with their guidance, send a cease and desist letter to the individual making the harassing or threatening communication,” Rabbitt Tabler said in a statement.
Rabbitt Tabler did not share the actions that prompted Cotton’s office to take these actions or the identities of the individuals.
John Noonan, counselor to Cotton on military and defense affairs, said the letter was sent to a constituent who threatened a 19-year-old intern.
“Letter went out in October. To one constituent, who called one of our 19 year old interns a c*** and threatened her physically,” Noonan tweeted.
On Wednesday, activists who had gathered outside Cotton’s office to protest his opposition to the Dream Act were asked to leave.
Later that day, liberal activist group Ozark Indivisible tweeted that its members had been sent cease and desist letters.
“This letter is immediate notification that all communication must cease and desist immediately with all offices of US Senator Tom Cotton. All other contact will be deemed harassment and will be reported to the United States Capitol Police,” the letter states.
FURTHER UPDATE: Noonan is now backing off his initial Tweeting. From his Twitter account:
Update: tone was threatening, no threats made. But c-word invoked.
He also claims there was only one letter. My sources say that’s not true and they are also disputing Noonan’s account of the talk with the intern.