Crowds of people turning up at Idaho Sen. Jim Risch’s Boise office in recent weeks to protest President Donald Trump’s policies and actions have prompted the senator’s staff to keep the door locked and ask visitors to schedule meetings ahead of time.
John Sandy, Risch’s chief of staff, said he made the call after crowds of 30 to 40 people twice came to the office in the past two weeks “demanding meetings right now.”
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“Sen. Risch’s main priority is always serving the constituents of Idaho, but at the same time, the safety and security of his staff is also important,” Sandy said Wednesday. “We would just ask if people would make an appointment and be respectful of the staff.”
Risch’s Coeur d’Alene office got a similar visit Tuesday from a group of Trump protesters.
“Things are really busy right now,” Sandy said. “Systemwide, we’re fielding over 1,000 calls a day, plus everything else.”
Melanie Folwell of Boise said she found Risch’s decision to limit office visits “off-putting.”
“It runs contrary to the spirit of representational democracy,” Folwell said. “I value the response we got at the other offices.”
Systemwide, we’re fielding over 1,000 calls a day, plus everything else.
Risch Chief of Staff John Sandy
Trump opponents across the country are making similar visits to members of Congress, taking steps suggested in an action manual put together by former congressional staffers. Local chapters of resistance have formed. Boise appears to have more than one.
The experience for other members of Idaho’s congressional delegation is mixed.
Lindsay Nothern, communications director for Sen. Mike Crapo, said he met with a large group at the senator’s Boise office Tuesday. Members of the group, he said, were concerned primarily with the president’s executive order regarding immigration and his nominee to head the Education Department, Betsy DeVos.
Nothern said the office has added staffers to handle a heavy call volume but hasn’t changed procedures for visits.
Nikki Wallace, communications and district director for Rep. Mike Simpson, said the congressman’s offices were getting “a steady stream of calls” and some visits.
“Everyone is being very respectful and expressing their views,” she said.
Dan Popkey, press secretary for Rep. Raúl Labrador, reported some additional calls but no visits to the congressman’s Meridian office.
Folwell said she went to Risch’s office with three other women Monday morning after a stop at the Capitol, wanting to discuss the president’s immigration ban order. The office was still open to drop-in visitors then, she said.
“We were very respectful and we related our own stories,” Folwell said. She and the others also made stops at Crapo’s and Simpson’s offices.