Dear Chip: Thanks for Being You

Letter to the Editor, Austin American Statesman, December 27, 2019.

Reasons to give thanks to Rep. Chip Roy

Congressional candidate Wendy Davis recently released an ad thanking her opponent, GOP Rep. Chip Roy, for inspiring her to run against him.

I likewise want to give Roy credit for helping Davis’ ad go viral.

So thank you, Rep. Roy, for your embarrassing rant in praise of high drug prices. Thanks for tweeting about Chick-fil-A while children are being locked in cages. Thanks for disseminating Russian propaganda that our own intelligence agencies warned you against. Thanks for offering healthcare legislation that’s essentially an empty piggy bank with the word “Freedom” written on the side. Thanks for stonewalling and insulting your constituents as we’ve begged you to respect our values. Thanks for your ugly anger, your authoritarianism and your inability to grasp the concept of compassion.

From all of us real Americans in District 21: Thank you for making the job of replacing you so much easier.

Susan Schorn, Austin

Dear Rep. Roy: How do you “fix” pre-existing conditions people are born with?

January 8, 2020

Representative Roy,

I have serious issues with your proposed Health Care Fredom bill, but one issue in particular really jumped out at me with your November 1st post entitled: “Republicans must unite around ‘health care freedom.'”

In it, you wrote that your bill would “address the concerns Americans have about pre-existing conditions by fixing the problem before it exists.” After my initial reading, I had to reread it several times as I was simply incredulous as to what you were saying.

Representative Roy, some preexisting conditions are genetic, so how could someone “fix” the problem before it existed? The same goes for conditions that may have come about through unforeseen accidents or illnesses or simply through the natural process of aging.

I am simply dumbfounded that someone in a position of authority could make such a ludicrous and out-of-touch statement with a straight face. In addition, I can’t help but feel sorry for any American who might fall for your obvious flim-flam.

As on so many issues, I look forward to your explanation.

Dear Rep. Roy: Why aren’t you applauding Chick-fil-A’s smart business move?

December 4, 2019

Representative Roy,

With you being one of the leading evangelists for the free market, I was extremely perplexed when you objected to Chick-fil-A’s decision to no longer make charitable contributions to organizations that discriminate against LGBTQ folks.

After all, Chick-fil-A is merely responding to market forces by hoping to attract a significant group of potential customers who it had previously ostracized. Furthermore, Chick-fil-A no doubt wants to expand its market share without the hindrance of one arm being tied behind its back.

Representative Roy, how exactly do you rationalize supporting the free market on one hand while opposing it on the other? With your degree in commerce (business) I’m very surprised that you’re unable to recognize the difference between good marketing/business practices and bad.

Moving on, I’d now like to turn to the moral side of the Chick-fil-A decision, as I strongly suspect that your opposition to their decision had less to do with business but more to do with your “Christian values.” If that happens to be the case, I want you to know that there are plenty of Christians, myself included, who sincerely believe that Jesus makes no exception for LGBTQ people any more than he did for other marginalized people such as the poor, disabled, lepers and slaves.

As with so many others issues, I look forward to your reply.


Letters FROM Chip: TX-21 constituents share Chip’s cut-and-paste replies

Every once in a while Chip’s staff will spit out a form letter explaining to his constituents why he is ignoring everything they’ve told him and voting in ways diametrically opposed to the values of his district. A few common threads stand out in these letters:

  • Chip really, really wants people to know he was a “former federal prosecutor”—even though the position he filled, Special Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of Texas, is an unpaid, volunteer position designed for young lawyers seeking “professional credibility.”
  • He calls anything he doesn’t like “a violation of the Constitution” or says it would somehow violate individuals’ “Constitutional rights.” He sometimes seems to be saying that it is unconstitutional for Congress to pass any laws at all.
  • Though the letters always include the same line about being glad to hear from constituents, they also order the recipient not to reply. They’re supposed to go fill out a form on his website if they want to continue the conversation. This is a tactic intended to prevent follow-up, so the recipient can’t hold Chip accountable for his vagueness, double-standards, and digressions from the real issues they raised when they contacted him the first time.

Reply to constituent’s request that Chip support the voter protection bill H.R. 1 

Here, Chip argues that the Constitution gives states have the right to disenfranchise voters:

The image is a letter, dated March 27, 2019. Two sections of text are highlighted in red boxes. The letter reads, "Dear [name redacted], Thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding H.R. 1, the For the People Act of 2019. I am always eager to hear the views of my constiuents, and I appreciate the opportunity to respond to your concerns. As a Constitutional Republic, our government is designed to empower the states to decide who they send to Congress to represent their interests. Centralization of power and influence in Washington wrks gainst the principles of federalism laid out by our founding fathers, and I will always fight to preserve those principles while considering any legislation. H.R. 1 passed the House of Representatives by a margin of 234 to 193." The following text in the letter is highlighted by a red box: "This legislation removed electoral authority and oversight away from th states, thus violating the Constitution and centralizing power in Washington. I voted against the bill and will continue to defend the Constitution and federalism during my time in office." End highlight. "Thank you again for your correspondence. I trust that you will continue to share your thoughts with me on other matters important to you. If I can ever be of assistance to you and your family, please do not hesitate to contact me. Sincerely, Chip Roy Member of Congress" The following text is highlighted in a red box: "Please do not reply to this email." End highlight. "To share your thoughts please visit my website.”

Reply to constituent urging Chip to vote to re-authorize the Violence Against Women Act

Here, “former federal proescutor” Chip weasels out of his pro-NRA vote by accusing a woman of “scoring points”—a pretty staggering charge from the man who shut down emergency aid to his own state just so he could net a couple of high-profile media interviews:

The image is a letter, dated May 24, 2019. Two sections of text are highlighted in red boxes. The letter reads, "Dear [name redacted], Thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding H.R. 1585, The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019. I am always eager to hear the views of my constiuents, and I appreciate the opportunity to respond to your concerns. As a former federal prosecutor, I believe violence against women is unacceptable and those who commit violent crimes should be punished to the full extent of the law. I believe most Americans agree on that principle.” The following text in the letter is highlighted by a red box: “Unfortunately, rather than work across the aisle in good faith to craft a workable pice of legislation, Speaker Pelosi chose to politicize the reauthorization for the benefit of her own party. As a legislative body, scoring political points should not outweigh securing our rights and constitutional limits on federal power.” End highlight. “H.R. 1585 was hardly recognizable from the original passed in 1994. This reauthorization includes new provisions that extend the law beyond its core purpose and overly extends the federal government into traditionally state and local matters. Local leaders are best suited to enforce state laws and tailor programs and services to the needs of their communities. Thank you again for your correspondence. I trust that you will continue to share your thoughts with me on other matters important to you. If I can ever be of assistance to you and your family, please do not hesitate to contact me. Sincerely, Chip Roy Member of Congress" The following text is highlighted in a red box: "Please do not reply to this email." End highlight. "To share your thoughts please visit my website."

Summary of reply to constituent who suggested concrete actions Chip could take to solve the immigration crisis he constantly rails about

Here, Chip used one of his favorite moves: ignoring the specific, actionable information in the letter he received, to instead ride his favorite hobby horse of border security hysteria.

The image is a screenshot of a website comment. It reads, "I received two replies from Chip today. The first one was in response to a letter I sent last month protesting Trump wanting to include a citizenship question on the 2020 U.S. Census. I honestly tried to detect a thread of meaningful thought in Chip's reply, but I finally gave up as it was just gobbledygook. In my second letter I urged him to support bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform (including protections for Dreamers) along the lines of what the U.S. Senate passed in 2013 before being torpedoed by the then GOP controlled House. In his reply he completely ignored pathways to citizenship, permanent resident status and the right of people to apply for asylum - instead, he focused exclusively on border control. I wasn't surprised but this type of mindset isn't going to get us anywhere. #GoodbyeMrChip"

Dear Rep. Roy: TX-21 taxpayers can’t afford cancer drugs, but they helped pay for yours

October 23, 2019

Dear Rep. Roy,

I urge you to support H.R. 3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act of 2019. House Democratic leadership released H.R. 3 on September 19, but it still needs amendments to increase the number of drugs eligible for negotiation and the number of drugs negotiated each year. The bill should also protect all patients from high launch prices and price spikes.

Will you commit to improving H.R. 3? Or are you still committed to the stance you took last May, when you said in a meeting of the House Oversight Committee, “To sit here and attack the capitalistic system that produces and distributes medicine that is saving lives around the world? I mean it is just offensive.” Do you find H.R. 3 “offensive” because it would prioritize the lives of AIDS patients over the $30 million bonuses of drug company CEOs? Do you think that laws preventing price-gouging on life-saving drugs are “an attack on the capitalistic system”? Do you know that two-thirds of Americans who file for bankruptcy do so because of medical debt? Do you care?

Can you explain how one of your “Healthcare Freedom Accounts“—the only actual policy you seem to feel is needed to solve our healthcare crisis—would help a diabetic whose insulin has increased in price 1200% over the last decade? Over 30 million Americans suffer from diabetes. Some of them live in your district. Are you unwilling to put their lives and solvency ahead of the interests of wealthy drug company CEOs?

The drug you’ve said you took when you had lymphoma, Brentuximab Vedotin, costs $4,500 per vial, over $100,000 for a course of treatment. When you were diagnosed with lymphoma, did you have $100,000 put away in a savings account for your healthcare? I assume you did not, which is why you were careful to keep your taxpayer-funded health coverage with the Texas Attorney General’s Office when you went to work for Ted Cruz. Most residents of your district don’t have state jobs, and can’t afford cancer drugs. But they helped pay for yours. If you want to square that account, you need to support H.R. 3. If you don’t, you’ll be telling the voters of TX-21 loud and clear that your health and wealth are more important than theirs.

Letters to Chip, 10/9/19: Defend the Constitution

October 9, 2019

Dear Rep. Roy,

The President of the United States, and the leader of your party, has now twice, on live television, asked foreign countries to interfere in the U.S. electoral process and aid his campaign for re-election. He has unilaterally betrayed our allies the Kurds in Syria, to the dismay of our own armed forces. His tweets and other public statements are increasingly deranged and detached from reality. He is manifestly unfit for public office, and if you cannot see this, you are too.

If you do recognize his dysfunction, and still support him, you are unfit to live in a civilized society.

You took an oath to protect the Constitution. That is far and away the most important part of the job you are being paid to do. If you fail to speak out publicly in this moment, and support the removal of this dangerous, corrupt president, you will take your place among those forever condemned in the history of our nation as enemies of democracy.

Letters to Chip, 10/9/19: Town hall

October 9, 2019

Congressman Roy:

I am calling on you once again to have a town hall in Austin. we hre at Indivisible have been misrepresented by some of your supporters as opposing your town halls in places like Bandera, where you are holding a town hall tonight. On the contrary, we think it’s wonderful that you are so supportive of your constituents in places that some politicians might think are too out-of-the-way to be counted. However, we in Austin are also your constituents, and we too deserve a town hall, a real one, not one held in a political safe haven like the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a place where some of your constituents might not be comfortable going simply because of who they are. No, we need a real town hall, one slathered in barbecue sauce or salsa, one that can be reached by public transportation, one like the ones you are having in other places, a town hall held in a public forum instead of the headquarters of a partisan think tank. If you are indeed running for office, or even if you are not, give us a town hall.

Letters to Chip, 10/9/19: Impeachment

October 9, 2019

Rep. Roy,

As per the attached letter from Ellen L. Weintraub, Chair of the Federal Election Commission, your President has violated the law and the U.S. Constitution, and as such, impeachment and conviction are both demanded.

If you fail to support impeachment, it will be proof that you are not a defender of the Constitution, the proponent of the rule of law or the patriot that you constantly make yourself out to be.

Rest assured, your patriotic progressive constituents will work tirelessly to see you defeated on November 3, 2020 for not standing up for what is right, good, and decent about America.

Letters from August-September 2019: Impeachment, Faith, Gun Control, Partisanship, and Racism

On Impeachment:

The image is of a postcard, with a reply address of TX 21 Indivisible. The handwritten text reads "Representative Roy, As the Democrats announce an Impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump, I would like to hear a statement from you and your position. Regards, Bryan." The postcard is addressed to Chip Roy, 5900 S.W. Parkway, Suite 201a, Austin TX 78735

On Faith and Action:

Representative Roy, enough is enough! You claim to be a Christian. Act like one! The Bible says that faith without action is worthless. Likewise, thoughts and prayers without action are equally meaningless. Believe me, if Jesus were here today he’d be siding with Moms Demand Action Against Gun Violence, not a terrorist enabling organization like the NRA.

And while the NRA started out as a legitimate gun magazine for gun safety, for hunters and for those who wanted firearms for protection and for recreational use – long ago it devolved into an unrecognizable, grotesque and dangerous version of its former self. In fact, just to show how far out of touch the NRA has become, NRA leader Wayne LaPierre once said that the deaths of children through gun violence or gun accidents represented the price we have to pay for the right to keep and bear arms. I reject that notion, and so should you!

Representative Roy, the place for military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines is on the battlefield not in the civilian world, and universal background checks must be made mandatory! But rather than leading that effort, all you do is offer condolences before moving on. That’s not satisfactory!

In a second posting you said that the problem of mass killings is due to “cultural rot.” You’re so right Representative Roy, and examples of it are a President who routinely spews hatred, rightwing Christianity that either condones that racism or turns a blind eye to it and a twisted gun culture that refuses to reform itself. Look in the mirror Representative Roy; you are part of that rot!

Representative Roy, I too am a Christian, but my faith is more than just a “Come to Jesus Moment.” It demands action to root out evil and injustice – whether that be achieving affordable healthcare, having compassion for immigrants and the less fortunate, treating others as we would treat ourselves, preservation of our God given earth and reining in an out of control gun culture!

On Partisan Blame Games:

The image is a screenshot of an email. The text reads, "Honorable Representative Chip Roy, I listened to your Sunday Fox interview that was replayed Monday morning on KLBJ 590 AM radio. You stated that the Democrats have done nothing in Congress. Here's a list of bills the House has passed since January. [2.5-page list follows; link is]"

On Gun Reform Laws:

Honorable Representative Chip Roy,

Today, the 18th anniversary of the infamous attack on the World Trade Center in New York City where thousands of people perished and where more thousands of those who survived now suffer the health aftereffects of injuries incurred on that occasion, I, and thousands, perhaps millions of citizens ask if our state and federal lawmakers have lost their respect for life. What precipitates this question is the inability and/or political will to pass sensible gun reform laws. There is no question that the public cries out for this action and has for years now. One is left numb and speechless in the reality that it is no longer safe for our children and young adults to go to school and to higher learning institutions without the fear of possibly dying and not returning home. Longtime church and synagogue goers have their memories seared with the knowledge they, too, may not return home alive. Normal activities such as going shopping at the mall, going to see a movie at the movie theater, going to a nightclub to dance are no longer safe.

Lawmakers twist and turn with unreasonable rationale about the Second Amendment and what it dictates in the face of such carnage. One is left to wonder if you and they are slow walking into a national death wish…taking us all with them. One also wonders and may conclude that the terrorists have indeed won.

On Inciting Racist Violence:

August 7, 2019

Dear Rep. Roy,

This weekend, in the wake of some of the worst mass violence in our state’s history, you somehow felt it was appropriate to go the border and tag along after Customs and Border Patrol while they did their jobs. You tweeted a photo straight out of a video game, breathlessly reporting that CBP had “just apprehended some folks from India.”

You followed that up with a tweet lamenting the CBP policy of “Catch & Release.”

My first question to you is this: Why did you think it was appropriate, before the victims of racist hatred in El Paso were even buried, to go to the border and talk about the people already risking their lives to cross it and reach America as if they were animals to be hunted?

My second question is whether you agree with your Twitter fan “scalptrader1,” who responded to your border escapade by tweeting “sneaking in not folks who give a damn about U.S. Assimilation. no wonder why, after 100,000s of thess [sic] types, month after month, a kid snaps. sorry but he sees his home country under invasion.”

As of 6:56 this morning, that reply was still up on Twitter, and you had still not responded to disagree with its hateful and dangerous racism. Will you do so?

Or do you also feel “sorry” for the terrorist from Dallas who murdered 22 innocent people while they were shopping?

Two questions. I know you have answers to them, or you wouldn’t have made the choice to do the things you did, and say the things you’ve said. You owe your constituents—especially those whose lives and families are at risk from racist hatred—some answers.