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Constituent Letters, May 20, 2020

Dear Rep. Roy,

I am writing about two relatively recent letters you wrote regarding Kinder Morgan Inc.’s drilling operations at the Blanco River Site of the Permian Highway Pipeline project: your 3 April letter to Kinder Morgan itself and your 2 May letter to the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers.   Have you heard back from the USACE about the permitting issues you raised about Kinder Morgan’s activities?  And what was the upshot of your meeting or communication with Kinder Morgan?

It’s time to update your constituents on these issues.

I look forward to hearing from you,

– W


Dear Rep. Roy,

It’s disappointing to get a “response” from you because there never is an answer to any question I may have posed, only a screed framed by platitudes about how eager you are to hear the views and concerns of your constituents.

Your most recent communication, for example, from 19 May, ostensibly replied to a contact from me about reopening the economy.  In the letter you might be responding to, however, a 6 May email, I asked for answers to specific questions that didn’t get answered in your Texas Tribune interview with Evan Smith: Was it okay with you if more people got sick if Texas opened up too soon? Did you support public demonstrations that didn’t follow local orders and public-health recommendations? And why didn’t you set an example of social responsibility for your constituents (and your children) by wearing a mask and practicing social distancing when necessary?

I still would like to have answers to those questions, even though you seem to think that your philosophy of self-interest explains everything.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

– W


Representative Roy,

I truly sympathize with those who have lost their livelihoods during the COVID-19 pandemic as the psychological and financial hurt has to be tremendous. By contrast, my family and I are in relatively good shape. I’m retired so my income hasn’t been affected and my wife works in retail that’s considered essential, so while she’s fortunate enough to have kept her job, she’s also exposed to a large number of people who might be infected with the virus. As for our children, they are lucky enough to be able to work from home.

Nevertheless, I’m just as anxious for our economy to open back up as you are, but I’d like for that to be done responsibly rather than rushing to open, as you prefer, by ignoring, the Centers for Disease Control safety protocols.

And that points to something dark and disturbing among you Republicans. It’s not just the closings of workplaces that bother you, it’s a number of other things related to the current pandemic as well:

1) Early on there was Trump minimizing the dangers and spread of the coronavirus.

2) Then it was and continues to be the unproven and/or dangerous medications pushed by various conservative commentators and President Trump himself.

3) It’s conservatives saying that COVID-19 deaths have been overinflated by enemies of President Trump to try to make him look bad, when in actuality, the number of deaths have most likely been undercounted.

4) It’s conservatives calling the coronavirus a hoax.

5) It was and continues to be Republicans trying to shift the blame for Trump’s ineptness in handling the crisis to the Chinese, to the World Health Organization, to former President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joseph Biden and now to our very own Centers for Disease Control.

6) And even now, something as simple as social distancing and the wearing of masks is mocked by many Republicans. President Trump, who is supposed to set an example for Americans, has never worn a mask, you, your family and a staffer didn’t wear masks at a recent visit to a local restaurant and most conservative rally goers ignore both masks and social distancing.

Representative Roy, the modern Republican party is marked by systemic rot, with its response to the coronavirus being but one example. How you can stand the stench is beyond me.

For truth over willful ignorance,

– S


Representative Roy,

You advocate opening up businesses as usual. “Let America Open.” Well then why is your office not open in Austin? You inferred in your townhall last night that it was open, but then corrected yourself saying your staff were accessible at hom eby phone! When can we have a face-to-face meeting with your staff or yourself?

– B

May 18, 2020: TX-21 Indivisible Endorses Wendy Davis

TX-21 Indivisible is proud to announce that their members have voted unanimously to endorse Wendy Davis to represent Texas’s 21st District in the United States House of Representatives.

Just a few of the reasons for our endorsement:

  • Davis will listen to all her constituents with a goal of seeking common ground.
  • Davis will have equitable staffing and office hours at her San Antonio and Austin offices.
  • Davis will put the interests of Hill Country property owners over those of pipeline company Kinder Morgan.
  • In problem-solving, Davis will rely on common sense and pragmatism rather than rigid ideology.
  • Davis will represent us with a steady hand and even demeanor, rather than through rants and histrionics.
  • Davis will work to restore lawfulness in the conduct of governance.
  • Davis will work to protect executive departments from undue political influence and interference from whoever might be president. That would include protections for whistleblowers and inspector generals.
  • Davis will work to protect and improve the Affordable Care Act with the goal of creating a public option.
  • Davis will work to reduce the cost of prescription medications and to ensure protections for pre-existing conditions.
  • Davis will work to keep abortion safe and accessible.
  • Davis will not mock people with disabilities.
  • Davis will fight for sensible gun reforms.
  • Davis will not dismiss or belittle science – whether it be climate, meteorological, medical or any other kind of science.
  • To protect our climate, Davis will work to return the United States to the Paris Climate Accord and support the development of renewable energies.
  • Davis will work to restore protections for our environment.
  • Davis will support legal status for DREAMERs and will work for the creation of comprehensive immigration reform.
  • Davis will work to restore America’s leadership in world affairs and mend relationships with our traditional allies.
  • Davis will not support rash military decisions.

TX-21 Indivisible has always been about the power of people on the ground, in their communities. In that spirit we strongly encourage TX-21 residents to volunteer for and support Wendy Davis as we head toward the November the election.

Constituent Letters, May 13, 2020

Representative Roy,

In case you missed it, I’d like to share with you a letter to the editor from Tom Goodrum that appeared in the May 11th issue of the Austin American-Statesman.

You are the focus of the letter, but I have to warn you ahead of time that the writer does not hold you in a good light. But if you are just a little bit curious as to what nearly half of your constituents think of you, please read on.

Roy and family displayed a disregard for others

Re: May 3 commentary, “Restaurants open, and Chip Roy takes his family for Tex-Mex.”

Rep. Chip Roy and his family’s callous disregard for the safety of Elia Montoya, their food server, and everyone else while dining at Juan in a Million was stunning to observe. We’re told that one can be contagious for COVID-19 for two weeks, and that there may be no symptoms. Rep. Roy admits that he has been on planes and in Washington in the last 14 days. The Texas Department of State Health Services’ latest guidance states that individuals should “maintain at least 6 feet separation from other individuals not within the same household. If such distancing is not feasible, other measures such as face covering, hand hygiene, cough etiquette, cleanliness, and sanitation should be rigorously practiced.”

Why on earth would the Roy family flaunt the state’s health protocols and endanger Juan in a Million’s staff, their families, and other customers and their families as well? Politics.

Tom Goodrum, Austin

Like I said Representative Roy, Goodrum’s letter was very tough on you, yet deservedly so.

For a Representative who doesn’t put the health of his constituents at risk,

S., Austin TX

 

Reprehensible Roy,

Texas has the highest percentage of medically uninsured people in the United States! This is not a statistic you, as my Congressional House Representative for Texas District 21, should be proud of. Now, on top of that shameful statistic, in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic, Donald Trump and the Republican Party are trying to strike down, in its entirety, the Affordable Care Act! Because of the Trump administration’s botched response to the Coronavirus, we now have 33 million people unemployed, many millions now without any medical insurance. This will leave millions more people without any healthcare. Yet still there is no Republican replacement plan for Obamacare! Chip Roy, the Freedom Saving Accounts you continue to promote, most recently in your interview with Evan Smith, is definitely not the solution. Could you, Chip Roy, have funded your cancer treatments from a glorified health savings account? One thing this pandemic has clearly shown us is that our current ‘for profit’ healthcare system is an abject failure. It is time to accept the need for a serious change. We need to move, like the rest of the civilized world, to a Universal Healthcare system, such as Medicare for all, where everyone is covered, regardless of job or personal wealth. Healthcare should be a right, not a privilege! When will you and the rest of the Republican Party come to realize this? Maybe after you are kicked out of office in November! I suggest you pack your bags Mr. Roy.

B., Austin TX

 

Congressman Roy:

Here are questions I would like you to answer regarding how to help working people and the poor survive during the pandemic.

  • What systems will be in place so that workers on Unemployment can, if they choose, accept the work that is offered to them, even if it pays less or offers fewer hours and benefits? How can they be assured that they will still be able to feed their families, pay their rent, keep their health care, and, perhaps most importantly, work in a safe environment?
  • What is the Federal Government doing to protect the lives and health of workers deemed to be essential, such as janitors, sanitation workers, drivers and delivery workers, and those working in meat packing plants? What systems will be put in place to ensure the safety of these workers, even if it means that production lines or order fulfillment might be slowed down?
  • What will be done to protect populations who are forced to live or work in close quarters, such as nursing or group home residents, prison inmates, and ICE detainees, as well as those who work with these populations? Because even if we openly admit that we do not value the lives of these people, if we consider them to be somehow less human than ourselves, or if we believe that they are to be blamed for their situation, it remains true that the virus cares nothing for such moral judgments and will not respect the class distinctions that are so near and dear to some of our hearts. In other words, the virus may indeed begin its spread among the people we think are inferior to ourselves, but it will not stay there.

So I ask you what is the Federal Government, Congress and the Trump Administration, doing to protect us all from this scourge?

M., Austin TX

 

Congressman Roy:

I have a couple of simple questions having to do with the response by Congress and by the Trump Administration to the coronavirus. I hope you will answer at least one of them.

  • Where are the tests, and what will the Federal Government do to coordinate testing efforts in the various states?
  • What will the Trump Administration and Congress do to institute and maintain effective programs of contact tracing?
  • Where are the detailed guidelines that states and local authorities can use to make crucial decisions about reopening and, when needed, shutting back down during localized outbreaks?
  • What will the Federal Government do to support at-risk health care workers, including doctors, nurses, janitors, food service workers, and everyone else who is unable to work from home?
  • How will the Federal Government protect the lives and ensure the safety of essential and nonessential workers so that they do not become the expendable workers?

I realize that the needs of various communities will always differ somewhat, and decisions about specific responses to outbreaks will always need to be made at the state and local levels. No one is denying this. But this in no way obviates the need for Federal guidance, coordination, and oversight.

M., Austin TX

 

Congressman Roy:

I am appalled by the misrepresentations by you that imply that some Texans are somehow making more money on unemployment than they earned while working. This is absolutely not true, since, as you well know, benefits are calculated based on your recent income and will necessarily never exceed or even reach the highest amount of those earnings. When people turn down work because they will receive more money on unemployment than they will earn at the job, this by necessity means that they are being offered much less than they earned before, less, in reality than they can be expected to live on.

During my lifetime, I have received several forms of public benefits, including Supplemental Security Income, food stamps, Section 8 housing, Social Security Disability, and unemployment benefits. Of course, I also worked for decades before retiring. But I have a lifelong disability that made it difficult for me to get and maintain employment for many of my so-called working age years, from 18 to 65. I did not particularly enjoy being on these benefits, though I was extremely grateful that they were there.

But there were times that I was indeed afraid to take employment and get off them. This was not because I was lazy, that I believe I was some kind of privileged character who deserved not to work. On the contrary. I very much wanted to work. But I knew that once I got off the benefits, I would lose my safety net, including a steady income, health care, food, and shelter. Taking a job was risky because I was afraid that if I made even the smallest mistake, or if I was perceived to have done so, I would have nothing to fall back on.

Punishing people for receiving benefits, Making it degrading, erecting barriers does not somehow magically make people able to live on nothing but stone soup. Instead, people need some assurance that accepting work will not deprive them of their access to health care, shelter, and food. In other words, the benefits should not just be snatched away because the person is working. If you want people to work instead of being on benefits, then reward them for working by letting them keep some of their benefits instead of taking them away as soon as possible.

But as usual, you find ways to excoriate the poor and blame them for all manner of ills, all from the comfort of your office. It must be nice! You have never had to work for low pay in dangerous working conditions. You have never had to face the fear of employment discrimination. You have no right to say the things you are saying. Please stop and think before launching your thumbs into hurtful actions.

M., Austin TX

 

Dear Rep. Roy,

I hope you read the Washington Post’s May 9th article about Prestige Ameritech, a Texas company that makes medical equipment for America’s Strategic National Stockpile. The company’s owner, Michael Bowen, tried in vain last January to get the federal government to order N95 face masks from its supply lines. The Trump administration ignored this opportunity to buy millions of American-made PPE units when they were needed. As a result, America has had to buy masks at inflated prices, piecemeal, leaving healthcare workers exposed to the coronavirus.

Where were you when the last major American manufacturer of PPE, doing business in the state you claim to love so much, was trying to do the patriotic thing and provide equipment that would save American lives? According to your Twitter feed, you were obsessing about the national debt, “cartel terrorists,” and banning homeless people in Austin. You attended a fundraiser in Alamo Heights. You tweeted excerpts from your anti-impeachment screed in the National Review. You promoted your attendance at a Texas Public Policy Foundation event. You retweeted a laughable op-ed that claimed Donald Trump was “leading the fight against anti-Semitism.” And you were touting your “pro-life” beliefs at the Texas Rally for Life, which you tweeted about over a dozen times as Bowen was being ignored.

Because no one listened to warnings like Michael Bowen’s, 85,000 Americans are now dead. A Texas company that tried to save American lives instead sold its goods to China and other countries—the free market at work—and we are scrambling to source foreign-made protective gear. A Texas-owned business that could have benefitted from federal spending saw that money instead go to overseas manufacturers and middlemen. And even now, you are doing nothing to facilitate the supply of PPE or tests needed to safely reopen our economy.

Rep. Roy, you aren’t pro-life, pro-business, or pro-Texas. Either live your professed values, or shut up about them.

Sincerely,

S., Austin TX

Constituent Letters, May 6, 2020

The following letters were sent to Rep. Roy’s staff in lieu of our long-standing weekly constituent meeting:

Representative Roy,

Perhaps you’re not that familiar with the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. In part, it guarantees “… the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Under that provision, a small group of five to six TX21 Indivisible members have been weekly visiting first Lamar Smith’s office, and since early last year, your office, to express our grievances – with most of these meetings lasting no more than thirty to forty minutes.

Also, we’re mostly retired folks who lead quiet ordinary lives, not revolutionary bomb-throwers. However, with that being said, we’re extremely alarmed by the GOP embrace of authoritarianism and its disdain for justice, equality, a free press, fair elections, healthcare as a right, immigrants, a clean environment and climate science. Consequently, while we have made many frank comments during our meetings; we have always been very professional and civil, and as such, we were never given any indication that we were wearing out our welcome. After all, we are your constituents.

Thus, it came as quite a shock last week when we were notified by Nathan McDaniel, your District Director/campaign manager, that we would henceforth be limited to one meeting a month for thirty minutes. The reasons seemed rather contrived, as only later did McDaniel mention that your staff needed more time for COVID-19, or as you prefer, Wuhan virus inquiries.

Even giving you the benefit of the doubt on that, one can’t help but wonder why your Austin office is only open twelve hours a week versus the forty hours that your San Antonio office is open – especially when both are located in heavily urbanized areas. Consequently, why should we south and central Austinites be shortchanged, especially, if as McDaniel stated, there’s a heavy workload of coronavirus (Wuhan virus) queries? In fact, we don’t even merit the fourteen hours that your Kerrville office is open each week.

In conclusion, if your Austin office is so challenged in meeting the needs of local constituents, the fault doesn’t lie with the five or six people who visit/Zoom with your constituent liaison each week, but with you and your staff in severely restricting the hours that your Austin office is open.

In any event, the ball is in your court Representative Roy. To channel the late President Ronald Reagan, “tear down these restrictive Austin office hours so that you can better hear what your Austin area constituents are saying.”

For elected officials who make every effort to accommodate their constituents’ rights to peacefully assemble and petition,

S., Austin TX

 

Representative Roy,

I listened to your short video clip, “Let America Open” which you proudly posted on your Chip Roy 2020 election Facebook page yesterday. While everyone agrees that we need to get the country working again the question is how best to do it? You appear to take the position that we must open the economy regardless of the impact. The right to work supersedes all the right of others to live. In your interview with Mark Levin a few weeks ago you both mocked the projected death rates as scare mongering. I remind you that just yesterday we passed 70,000 deaths and it shows no signs of slowing.

My first question to you is how many people are you willing to sacrifice in order to open the economy? At what point is the sacrifice in lives something that would get your attention? The latest estimate by the IHME increases their prediction to 135,000 deaths by August 4th. They state the 54,000 increase from their previous prediction on March 26th is a direct consequence of 31 States opening prematurely and the lack of social distancing? Do you find this acceptable? Are these additional 54,000 deaths just a necessary sacrifice you think we should pay to open our economy now?

We also heard yesterday that the Coronavirus Task Force is ramping down and will be disbanded by Memorial Day. What the heck is this administration doing? All the medical experts say it is too soon to be winding down! I am stunned! I am mortified! I am horrified! Clearly this administration has given up! It has thrown in the towel and is now just going to let the Coronavirus run rampant! We have not beaten the Coronavirus; we don’t even have it on the run! The Government’s own predictions are that the current death rate will increase to 3,000 per day by June yet this administration is declaring victory and moving on regardless! This is a shameful abdication of responsibility that history and the electorate in November 2020 will judge incredibly harshly. Pack your bags Mr. Roy.

Regards,

B., Austin TX

 

Dear Rep. Roy,

We are still waiting for you to update us on your April 2nd letter to Kinder Morgan, regarding their recent pollution of your constituents’ well water, in which you asked the company to respond “at your earliest convenience.” Has Kinder Morgan responded? What have you done to protect TX-21 residents, their land, and their water from damage caused by the construction of the Permian Highway Pipeline?

We are also still waiting for you to address the conflict of interest posed by your ownership of Kinder Morgan stock, which is recorded in your required House financial filings. Why should TX-21 residents believe that you are willing to protect them from Kinder Morgan when you are currently benefitting financially from their actions?

 

Sincerely,

S., Austin TX

May 9, 2020: TX-21 Constituents Offer Their Words vs. Chip’s

Rep. Chip Roy recently canceled TX-21 Indivisible members’ longstanding weekly office meeting with staffers, saying they took up too much time. In response, we have created much-condensed word clouds that highlight the major themes reflected in our communications with Chip’s staff since January 2019. We have also created a word cloud of Chip’s official utterances, as reflected in the Congressional Record. We believe the contrast between the values reflected in our messages, and those fomented by Chip, speaks for itself. We hope Rep. Roy and his staff will reflect upon what they might stand to gain if they were to actually listen to what the voters are saying.

May 5, 2020: Roy’s Office Cancels Constituent Meetings, Says Listening To TX-21 Residents Takes Too Much Staff Time

Nathan McDaniel, Staffer and Campaign Manager for Rep. Chip Roy, recently emailed TX-21 Indivisible members to inform them he was canceling the group’s longstanding weekly office meeting with staffers. These meetings were established because Congressman Roy refuses to meet with his Austin constituents himself, doing so only once since his election (and then only because an alert voter encountered him in Kerbey Lane in April 2019). Repeated requests to his staff and scheduler have been ignored since then.
“John in our DC office has documented every letter that has been sent,” McDaniel wrote, “and he’s responded to several of them. According to those numbers, we have given your group significantly more staff time than any other group we work with – in DC or Texas.”
TX-21 Indivisible ATX has also documented every letter we’ve presented at these meetings, recording the author, topic, and date presented–a process which took one volunteer approximately four hours total. We sincerely doubt that is more time than Chip and his staff given to lobbyists for, say the pharmaceutical or petroleum industries.
From our records, here are the bills and issues that Austin residents of TX-21 consider to be of the most pressing importance, but which Chip Roy and his staff think are a waste of time:
HR 3 – Lower Drug Costs Now Act
HR 5596 – Personalized Care Act of 2020
HR 5491 – Body Armor Modernization Act
HR 535 – Perfluoroalkyl Regulation Act
HR 603 – Health Savings Account Expansion Act
HR 2534 – Insider Trading Prohibition Act
HR 2932 – Homeland Security for Children Act
HR 4617 – SHIELD Act
Kinder Morgan’s contamination of water wells in TX-21
Election security
COVID-19 testing availability
Second Amendment rights
VAWA renewal
Homelessness
Syrian troop withdrawal
Voter suppression
Family separation
As McDaniel admits, the vast majority of constituent letters have gone unanswered. The responses that have been received are mostly form letters.
We understand that Congressional representatives receive many communications from constituents. But since the day he was elected, Roy has studiously avoided engaging with TX-21 residents in Austin. We have given him every opportunity, and he has dismissed them all out of hand. We will not be deterred. From now on, we will be recording our letters on video, and posting them here so voters throughout TX-21 can see what Chip’s constituents care about–and how little Chip cares about them.

Letter FROM Chip: Roy claims that civic engagement tools like ResistBot are contacting him without the sender’s knowledge or permission

A TX-21 resident recently received the following reply from Chip’s office after contacting him via the messaging service ResistBot. In it, Chip makes the ludicrous claim that civic engagement tools like ResistBot are clandestinely sending emails to Congressional offices without users’ knowledge or consent. 

Roy provides no evidence to support his claim that “many” people are “unaware these organizations are using their information to contact Congressional offices.” We are curious to know why he thinks this, and have reached out to his office for clarification.

Letter from Chip Ry's office to a constituent.