To the editor:
Saturday morning, Feb. 10, my family and I stopped in at Meriwether's to meet and greet our new Gov. Dr. Jeff Colyer. What should have been an exciting and enjoyable event for my children, wife and me, instead led to a rather disturbing encounter with Rep. Jeff Pittman, who approached me in what I feel was a confrontational manner as witnessed by several people, including my 9-year-old daughter, who is very much aware of his politics and who has developed her own negative perception of his opinion of me.
Now put yourself in my shoes, a self-employed person who works six days a week to survive with no health insurance because the non-compliant policy we had with Blue Cross was canceled last April and would cost us about $18,000 a year to replace. Enjoying time with my family at an event where the governor appeared was special enough for us to open our business late, a very rare occurrence, for the privilege to attend. Yet I had to suffer the self-righteousness of Rep. Pittman interrupting my family time to confront me about grievances for which he had the nerve to accuse me of being unwilling to discuss with him. This is untrue. For six months, I've been writing articles about his record in office. In that time, he reached out to me once, on Jan. 9, and I accepted his invitation to meet but he never followed up with me. During our Feb. 10 exchange, Rep. Pittman had the audacity to inform me he expected me to call him and arrange for the meeting he invited me to, insisting he had provided me with his phone number, to which I told him he never provided. He clarified, saying his number is publicly listed and I should have looked it up. He has had ample opportunity to meet with me – two other public events we were both at or engage on Facebook. He could have called or dropped by my retail store at anytime but he never has.
Rep. Pittman began this meeting by attempting to goad me several times into airing my grievances for which, he was well aware, are over his vote to raise our taxes last year.
I did tell him legislators needed to make cuts to the budget. He responded that they had made several cuts. I said that they need to cut more as my family has had to do.
Incredibly, Rep. Pittman also accused me of harassing him. He did not clarify or give details as to how he feels I'm harassing him. I assume he is not a fan of my writing and use of publicly available photos. Everything I have published concerning Rep. Pittman is true and accurately reflects his record. I've yet to see him dispute or rebut anything I have published. The articles I publish are under my name. I go to great lengths to verify the information I publish so as not to give a false impression of his voting and attendance records. If Rep. Pittman can't handle written articles that amount to criticism from a constituent concerning his public record, then he is in the wrong line of work. If he doesn't like what his record reflects, then he should strive to change or explain it.
Especially strange is the fact that accompanying Rep. Pittman was a third party who was seen by multiple, credible witnesses video recording our conversation. This engagement has left me with the impression that Rep. Pittman singled me out, looking for a negative confrontation. I feel he tried to set me up to his benefit. This is not a normal way to open dialogue with someone you've never formally met and who is only exercising a constitutional right to shed light on the public record of an elected official. I also question exactly what his plans are for this video. Why didn't he inform me we were being taped and are my children captured on it? How dare an elected official take such an unethical privilege with a private citizen.
Once again, I find myself reminding Rep. Jeff Pittman to reflect upon his etiquette and to take note that there is a proper time and place for such discussions. Perhaps he can obtain guidance from his colleague, Debbie Deere, with whom I had had a very pleasant exchange just prior to his encounter at this event.