Tea Party group encourages ‘hard questions’ for Klein, but event organizers say otherwiseby George Bennett | August 12th, 2009
That’s the advice from one group encouraging opponents of Democratic health care overhaul efforts to show up at a Coalition of Boynton West Residential Associations meeting next week where U.S. Rep. Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton, is scheduled to speak.
But those hoping to grill Klein may be disappointed. COBWRA President Ken Lassiter says visitors and their non-perishable food donations are indeed welcome at his group’s meeting, but questions from non-COBWRA members won’t be allowed.
In the heated debate over health care reform, groups on the left and right are alerting their members to public appearances by members of Congress during the August recess. Some of the events are town hall gatherings focused on health care. Others, including Klein’s COBWRA appearance, turn out to be something else.
The South Florida Tea Party sent an e-mail Tuesday alerting members to Klein’s scheduled Aug. 19 appearance at the COBWRA meeting at 9:30 a.m. in the gated Ponte Vecchio community off Hagen Ranch Road.
The same e-mail also notes a “town hall” on health care at Sen. Bill Nelson’s office in Coral Gables on Thursday. But Nelson spokesman Bryan Gulley said no such event is planned.
“We can handle folks coming into the office and dropping off stuff, but we’re not having a town hall meeting,” Gulley said.
Next week’s COWBRA meeting, according to the Tea Party e-mail, will be “an opportunity to ask Klein some hard questions.” The e-mail also advises that COWBRA “would appreciate attendees bring non-perishable food for a food drive they are having.”
But Lassiter said the COBWRA meeting isn’t quite as advertised by the Tea Party group.
“It’s a meeting of an organization — it’s not a town hall. While the public is invited, the public is not invited to participate,” Lassiter said.
Nonpartisan COWBRA represents 88 community associations that include about 100,000 residents. Most of those residents are represented by U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Boca Raton, but a few COWBRA communities are in Klein’s district.
Lassiter also said that while Klein is expected to address health care, the main purpose of the meeting is to hear about Klein’s bill creating a national catastrophic insurance pool for homeowners.
Klein is planning a “telephone town hall” later this month on health care, but isn’t sponsoring any in-person forums specifically on the topic. His office said the exact date and time for the teleconference will be announced soon.
Klein’s Republican challenger, Allen West, accused Klein of “cowardice” for not hosting an in-person town hall on health care. But Klein said the call-in meeting will allow him to reach more constituents than a traditional town hall meeting.