Marine Mom, Tina Richards, after waiting eight hours in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office since 11:00 AM Friday morning, was escorted out by Capitol Police shortly after 7:00 PM. The Speaker decided to have the mother of a Marine who served two tours of duty in Iraq threatened with arrest and escorted from the building rather than schedule a meeting with her and other military families.
Richards was threatened with an unlawful entry charge which, according to the police, could include a stay away order from the Capitol Grounds for one year. “My goal is to bring 10,000 people to Washington, DC to lobby against the war, so being forced to stay away would have prevented me from accomplishing that objective.”
“I came to the Speaker’s office to seek an answer to a simple question – will the Speaker meet with those most affected by this war – the one percent of the nation who serve in the military and their families?” said Richards, whose son is now 80% disabled according to the Veterans Administration. “We live with this war every hour of every day. We want the Democratic leadership that controls the Congress to listen to our concerns and understand why it is so important to end this war, not extend it.”
Representatives of the media were not allowed to film the event as the Speaker forbids media cameras in her office. (Whatever happened to “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of the press?”) To prevent them from taping, the Speaker’s press secretary closed the doors so the media could not see inside.
Richards has been seeking an appointment with the Speaker since November 8, 2006. Three weeks ago as she was preparing to appear on Hardball with Chris Mathews, the Speaker’s office called saying they wanted to schedule a meeting. But, since the media attention died down, the Speaker’s office has not returned her calls or responded to her requests for a meeting with military families, veterans, Gold Star families and active duty soldiers.
Richards made national news when she had a chance encounter with Rep. David Obey, the chair of the appropriations committee, several weeks ago. Obey’s loss of temper – calling those who insist on using the power of the purse to rapidly end the war “idiot liberals” and suggested “they must be smoking something.” Richards remained polite during the encounter hoping to present her side of the story to Rep. Obey, but she never got the chance.
Regarding her visit to the Speaker’s office, Richards said: “I did not want to get arrested, I wanted the courtesy of an answer from her office – would they schedule an appointment with me and other military families? She decided to threaten to arrest me rather than answer. I come from the show me state, Missouri, and I don’t see anything hard about politely answering a simple question I just don’t understand.”
Tina is a Democrat who was the campaign manager for Veronica Hambacker, a Democratic congressional candidate in southern Missouri (a very Republican part of Missouri), and she made small donations to Democratic candidates across the country in 2006. She believed that if the Democrats won control of Congress they would end the war, not extend it as they are in the process of doing. She was so excited when they won that she immediately drove to Washington, DC and started seeking appointments with Party leaders, including Pelosi, in order to work with them to end the war.