CAHOKIA, IL – Republican Congressman, Mike Bost, was the target of a surprise, in-your-face, confrontation in Cahokia. Bost was holding what he called a “Take your Congressman to work” event at MotoMart convenience store.
Constituent, Chris Baker, of Waterloo, worried about health insurance for his wife's pre-existing condition, said it was his chance to finally be heard. Bost and his staff had essentially cut him off from contact with Bost through other means like phone calls and social media, he said.
His approach was a cause for concern. Baker came out of the store holding his baby daughter and came up from behind to confront Bost as he was speaking with news media.
“Congressman, I wonder why you haven’t held a town hall in his daughter’s entire life,” Baker said.
The confrontation came seven weeks after James Hodgkinson, a Bost constituent from Belleville, opened fire as members of congress practiced for a charity baseball game. Hodgkinson critically wounded Congressman, Steve Scalise before Capitol Police shot and killed Hodgkinson.
“I am a citizen who you voted to take away the health insurance for my wife. You voted to kill my wife without understanding what that vote was,” Baker continued.
“That rhetoric, I never voted to kill your wife,” Bost replied.
Things were heated but police did not intervene.
Bost eventually went on with the stated reason for his visit to hear first-hand about the concerns of small businesses. He even received a crash course in behind the counter training.
His last, in person, town hall meeting, was exactly 1 year ago, in O’Fallon, IL.
Security concerns are among the reasons for that.
“He says that he’s afraid for his safety because of my daughters and me. Look at me, I look like Zach Galifianakis in the hangover. I am not a threat to anybody,” Baker said.
“The best way to talk to my constituents is one on one,” Bost told him.
“No, it’s not,” Baker said. “The best way to talk to them is where there is a public record where we can hear what it is that you have to say and we can point back to it and point out to you that you are going back on your word.”
“You’re showing exactly why it is that you’re losing credibility with your group,” Bost replied.
Baker is a known activist with the group, “Invisible IL”, who solicited recommendations on issues to bring up to Bost from group members on Facebook, a Bost spokesman said.
Bost had no extra security detail. Staff simply alerted local police about the visit.
Bost released a statement saying:
“This is a sad reflection of the politicized world we live in, where trained political activists plot to score political points on camera rather than have an honest give-and-take on the issues. I’ve said all along that I need to hear from those who disagree with me, but there are more effective ways to do so than ambushing interviews and disrupting public events. Let’s put the ‘gotcha politics’ aside, because I am more than willing to meet with any constituent who wants a constructive dialogue.”
Bost has held 5 telephone town hall meetings in the past year, his spokesman said.