Vern Buchanan staffers meet with protesters, show little appetite for investigation
Protesters demonstrate outside U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan's offices. (Photo courtesy Liv Coleman)

Vern Town Hall Demo4 5-20-2019
"It's time for the country to move on," staffer says.

Liberal activists Monday met with staffers for U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan to call for further investigation of President Donald Trump. But staffers suggested more desire to move on than further scrutinize Trump’s actions around a Russian meddling investigation.

About 30 protestors staged demonstrations at the Longboat Key Republican’s Sarasota and Bradenton offices. Organizers handed out free copies of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation report.

The activists also gave speeches slamming the President for a number of instances in the report described as potential obstruction of justice.

Activists appealed to Buchanan’s moderate reputation in urging him to scrutinize the President further.

“Recently he broke ranks and voted with Democrats in favor of a measure to prevent Trump from pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord,” said Jenni Casale, a retired teacher and activist with Action Together Suncoast.

“There are probably a lot of Republicans who didn’t like that. But he did something courageous and correct for his district and the country.”

She said at the least, Buchanan should hold a full-scale town hall event to hear from all constituents.

“If Buchanan is serious about representing his district – us – he needs to hold a town hall and listen to his constituents – all of us,” Casale said.

But Buchanan’s office offered little hint he will entertain further investigation. Staffers noted the Mueller report found no evidence of collusion between Trump’s campaign and any Russians interfering with 2016 election process.

“The Mueller report found no collusion by President Trump or his campaign and brought no charges of obstruction,” said Buchanan spokesman Anthony Cruz.

“It’s time for the country to move on.”

Staffers also noted that Buchanan absolutely has held towns. None drew the intense interest of a 2017 event Buchanan ultimately moved to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. But the events this year were open for all constituents.”

“Vern has already held two town halls this year and will let people know when we schedule another,” Cruz said. “Our most recent town hall in Sarasota was publicized by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and ABC-7.”

Liv Coleman, an event organizer and former state House candidate, said protesters did meet in two groups with staffers from Buchanan’s offices.

“We need a town hall because of the growing Constitutional crisis,” Coleman said. “It’s frustrating to see Rep. Buchanan not willing to exercise the oversight powers he has as a member of Congress, when we see such flagrantly unaccountable, undemocratic, unlawful behavior from the executive branch.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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