In a dramatic escalation to the defensive posture Republicans have taken for months as constituents demand accountability, Sen. Tom Cotton’s office in Arkansas reportedly sent out cease-and-desist letters to constituents who contact his office with concerns.
Cotton has also threatened citizens with legal action if they continue to express their opinion and reach out to his staff.
Ozark Indivisible — an activist group that has been pressing members of the Arkansas Congress caucus on health care, immigration and other issues — received cease-and-desist letters.
“This letter is immediate notification that all communication must cease and desist immediately with all offices of US Senator Tom Cotton,” one letter read. “All other contact will be deemed harassment and will be reported to the United States Capitol Police.”
The Arkansas Times reports that others who have contacted Cotton’s office with concerns and questions have also received legal threats.
One letter recipient wrote:
I think they just honestly don’t want to listen to any citizen’s opposing view or hear the numerous grave concerns U.S. citizens have about the serious & ongoing attack on our Democracy and past election cycle in which a foreign, hostile Russian government interfered, they don’t want U.S. citizens to call and speak their mind and truth in a very direct manner and they obviously don’t want to be held accountable for their words and actions while serving all the people in this nation.
That Arkansas voter says he has contacted many other offices of members of Congress and never received a cease-and-desist letter in response.
This episode seems to fit a larger pattern of GOP frustration. Last month, a local Maine office for Sen. Susan Collins locked its doors during regular business hours in order to keep activists outside in the 20-degree weather. They had shown up at the office to lobby Collins against voting in favor of the Republican tax bill.
Police were soon called, and Maine activists were threatened with arrest.
Meanwhile, in the age of Trump, who continues to do deep damage to the GOP’s brand, even deeply red states such as Arkansas have morphed into hotly contested battlegrounds.
According to a recent report in the Arkansas Times, a new political model forecasts Democrats are poised to flip as many as 16 seats in the state House of Representatives and break the GOP’s supermajority control for the first time in more than a decade.
Republicans like Tom Cotton are going to be hearing a lot more from voters in 2018.
Veteran progressive writer for Media Matters and Salon. Two books: “Lapdogs: How The Press Rolled Over for Bush,” and “Bloggers On The Bus.” Follow him on Twitter @ericboehlert.