Constituents react after Rep. Chaffetz says packed town hall was ‘paid attempt to bully’

Posted at 9:39 PM, Feb 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-10 23:39:20-05

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah -- The fallout from Thursday night's town hall with Congressman Jason Chaffetz continued Friday. Close to 1,000 people were kept from getting in due to overcrowding.

"It was one of the maddest groups I've ever been in, and it unnerved me a little at first because you could feel the anger," said Sarah Buck of Salt Lake City.

Buck was one of those who didn't make it in, and she said she got there an hour early.

"One of the people I met had driven all the way from Moab, and they wouldn't let him in," Buck said.

People who live in Chaffetz's district said they should have been given top priority.

"Despite having this invitation, we still weren't allowed inside," said Aubrie Moench of Cottonwood Heights, holding a flier promoting the town hall that she received in the mail.

Moench said overcrowding isn't an excuse. Community Facebook pages had predicted as many as 3,000 people might attend the event.

"They already moved it from the city hall over to the high school, the high school only seats 1,000 people, lets move it to the gym, let's move it to the outdoor stadium," Moench said.

People started lining up outside the door at 4 p.m., three hours ahead of time. Katie Walker, who also lives in Utah's Third District, said that just wasn't possible for her family.

"I had a very narrow window to get home, get the kids fed, get a baby sitter, and then run to the town hall that we couldn't be a part of," Walker said. "It would have been great for him to hear from his very specific constituents."

Following the chaotic town hall, people said they had even more reason to be angry. Chaffetz was quoted in a published report saying: "You could see it online a couple days before, a concentrated effort in part to just cause chaos...more of a paid attempt to bully and intimidate."

"It seems outlandish to me, there were 2,000 people there, who is going to pay them? What would the source of the money be? I mean, I can't even imagine that," said Joanne Slotnik of Salt Lake City.

Slotnik was one of the 1,100 people who made it into the auditorium. She said she didn't get paid a dime to voice her frustration.

"It's not about liberals verses conservatives, it's about Americans," Slotnik said. "We're really afraid for our country, and we don't like the direction it's going in."

Chaffetz's press team said he would not be available to comment regarding this story.