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Rep. Jackson Lee Ignores Constituent At Health-Care Forum

Updated, 1:57 p.m.
Angry protesters hijacking health-care town hall forums across the country have dominated headlines in recent days. But the tables were turned in Houston this week when a congresswoman, not a constituent, was the one who breached etiquette.

When a constituent stood up and posed a question to Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) on Tuesday, the congresswoman wasn't exactly listening. (The incident occurs at about 4 minutes, 30 seconds into the video above.)

The constituent, identified as Tracy Miller on a video posted on YouTube, was well into her question about health-care reform when she realized Jackson Lee was talking on her cell phone.

"She's not even listening," someone in the room shouted.

Another voice in the crowd is heard on tape saying, "Seriously? Really, I mean, come on. Dude."

Indeed, the congresswoman is seen chatting on her cell phone as Miller, who said she is a cancer survivor, calmly continues to ask her question. The congresswoman soon hung up, put her cell phone away and answered the question.

But Republicans aren't going to let Jackson Lee forget her faux pas in ignoring one of her own constituents. The video, which includes text representative of a pro-conservative slant, was quickly posted on YouTube and circulated by eager GOP aides on Capitol Hill.

Ken Spain, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, which hopes to regain House seats from Democrats in 2010, said the video of Jackson Lee shows how out of touch Democrats are with their constituents when it comes to the sensitive topic of health care.

"Sheila Jackson Lee might want to consider calling her shrink since she is apparently disconnected from reality," Spain cracked in an e-mail to the Sleuth.

Jackson Lee represents a solidly Democratic district. She is far from a real target for Republicans in next year's mid-term elections. But Spain said her actions at the town hall meeting are emblematic of how "dismissive" of their constituents Democrats are coming across on health care.

Spain pointed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's recent assertion that the raucous protesters who have been riling health care town forums across the country are "un-American." And he singled out Rep. Baron Hill (D-Ind.), who recently referred to disruptive town hall protesters as "political terrorists."

"Some members might call them 'constituents,'" Spain added.

UPDATE: In a telephone interview with the Sleuth this afternoon, Jackson Lee explained she was on her cell phone during Tuesday's town hall meeting because she had called the House health care hotline seeking answers to a number of questions about particular elements of the health care bill moving through Congress.

"I had been on the cell phone getting a series of questions answered," Jackson Lee said. "I don't know why [Republicans think] it's so challenging. I happen to be able to think, listen and maybe even talk at the same time."

The health care hotline, also known as the war room, was established by House Democratic leaders to assist lawmakers with questions about the legislation. Jackson Lee said her office has "been bombarded" with phone calls about her stance on health care, especially since the video of her cell phone moment has "obviously become YouTube popular."

She expects plenty of protesters to show up to her next town hall meeting, scheduled for tonight, one of about a dozen she's doing over the next few weeks. "We will try to be as kind to them as they are unkind to us," she said.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  August 12, 2009; 1:08 AM ET
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Come on, you actually link to a video that asserts that the federal government is saving blood samples from all babies born after 1978 in a "secret data bank" so that they can make customized, targeted diseases? And you expect to be taken seriously?? And you don't bother to correct the misinformation about the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, which was bad enough in actuality, without being incorrectly hyped as having "injected people with syphilis" (Nobody was "injected with syphilis". The study only failed to treat subjects who had been infected on their own before becoming participants, which was certainly evil enough)?

Posted by: Lamentations | August 12, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

You did a fairly good job refuting the ridiculous theories. Thank you.
Honestly, though, 'The Sleuth' did not make any of those claims. C'mon. You know that.
How in the world should linking to the video of some yahoo making those claims mean she shouldn't be taken seriously? The fact that the person making those claims is "highly misinformed" is obvious to the rational among us. I'm certain Ms Akers is in that group.

Posted by: lostinthemiddle | August 12, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Angry town hall protesters highjacking town hall......LMAO....Nice considering Jackson Lee did not publicize it until the day before and then it was rather secretive.

Interesting considering Jackson Lee used tax payers money to bus in senior citizens to seat them in places so that most would not want to be disruptive for the sake of the elderly people.

The article is a SHAME! A Cancer survivor was asking her a question and she was talking on the phone. The last time I checked the cancer survivor and other tax payers are her BOSS, she works for us we do NOT work for her.

I wonder, if I were in a meeting with my boss and started talking on my cell phone while he was asking me questions, do you think he would be pissed? Yes, he would!

She did this two more times and then has the audacity to say she can talk to her staff and listen to people ask her questions about their heath care plan that may determine whether or not they live via treatment offered or not? Please, she is an ignorant lazy funeral hopping pig.

There is a reason she is dubbed "the Funeral Lady" here in Houston.

Learn how to report properly and in an unbiased manner, this is why most media outlets are TANKING, becaus eof absurd and obvious biased reporters such as yourself.

Posted by: kmday | August 12, 2009 11:31 PM | Report abuse

Tracy Miller was on Faux News this morning and she said Jackson answered her question and also had people who were taking down questions so that people could get answers. I'm sure Faux News thought they had a coup but it turns out the lady had only nice things to say about the meeting.

Posted by: rlj1 | August 13, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Sleuth or sellout? Notice how Sleuth is skeptical of the audience member being a cancer survivor but takes Sheila Jackson Lee's word that she was "calling for answers"? And implying the republicans made her do it? Republican hijacking townhalls? Why not point out the SEIU goons and the fake doctor/Obama delegate that Sheila Jackson Lee put up. The media is not giving the democrats the Joe the Plumber treatment. Fake Doctor? Okay! CellPhone call while constituent is speaking? Civil!

Posted by: Cornell1984 | August 13, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Sheila Jackson Lee has been a very poor representative for Texas and I am not surprised she would ignore/dismiss constituents, especially if they asked her a "tough" question (which would really be ANY question).

She is not in the class of what a representative should be and is an example of a loud-mouthed demagogue being voted in by folks who check-mark race first and character last.

Posted by: RealTexan1 | August 13, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

"The camera is the new gun".

This video is going viral and Congresswoman Lee is finished in Texas.

She'll be lucky to get a job at Wal-Mart when her term is up.

Posted by: grannymiller | August 13, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I was at the town hall meeting because Sheila is my congressperson. Sheila is lying about talking on her cell phone to some "health hot line." We could all see and hear she was talking to her staff people who were alerting her about prominent people arriving at the meeting. Immediately after each of those 3 cell phone conversations, Sheila pointed out and recognized some prominent arrivee. Do you think it reasonable to believe a congressperson would be conducting telephone "hot line" research during her town hall meeting? Come on, people. Her behavior is consistent with a person obsessed with celebrity and appearances. Anybody remember her Michael Jackson funeral grandstanding? Sheila is not only a rude boor, she's a bald-faced liar. When are the voters in District 18 going to wake up?

Posted by: donwayne69 | August 13, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Well if she had any mannners at all she would have explained what she was doing before she got on the phone. Obviously as an elected member she does not. It goes along with ole Nan P, Queen of the illegal aliens harvasted my grapes, and some odd ball from the Hoosier State saying that people involved in the democratic process were un-american and terrorists.

If wanting answers to questions and being tired of being treated as second class citizens in our won country bores you Democrats than I suggest you pack your bags because 2010 is going to be a really tough, tough year for you to get re-elected.

Posted by: zendrell | August 13, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Sheila Jackson Lee talking on the phone while a question was being asked is news and should be covered. How it is covered by "The Sleuth" insults the intelligence of those of us seeking news rather than gossip and youtube videos taken out of context with closed captioned editorializing running over the video. You've convinced me to dump my Washington Post updates and look elsewhere for the real news. Looks like your trying to compete with Faux (Fox) News. Goodbye and good luck.

Posted by: SouthernLiberal | August 13, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Another one who is way past her shelf expiration date. Come on people dammit..let's all vote every incumbent out of office and in the following election get the rest. Clean the place up! This whole branch of government is diseased and needs to be cleansed thoroughly.
Clean sweep! Let's start over.

Posted by: menopausequeen | August 13, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if Ms "Sleuth" would do the right thing and print up an article about how Shelia planted a graduate student in her audience you blatantly lie and put her self off as a Doctor. I mean seriously, she lies about being a doctor and is not even done with her masters degree at the university of houston? Where is that report?

Better yet, let's talk about your update: SJL state she was calling a help line for the government run health care bill......Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm

If she is pushing this as a great thing and she is voting yes on it, shouldn't she know this like the back of her hand? Why is she making phone calls about a bill she is ready to vote yes on if she does not know it?

Better yet, when asked about the constitution during the town hall event and the governments powers, she stated that she did not bring the Constitution with here and that she was ....and then she was interupted by several constituents that actually brought theirs with them. can get every bit of what I said off of a youtube clip if you question what I am saying.

The fact that she spent tax payers money to fly to MJ's funeral and present a crap of a bill to recognize him when it was not even voted on is a joke and CRIMINAL.

But to bus elderly people into her town hall on the tax payers dime in order to place the strategically and then bus in ACORN workers.......come one, she is a tool!

Posted by: kmday | August 13, 2009 11:46 PM | Report abuse

BTW,,,,,you are not living up to your "title" because there is ZERO detective work being done on your part-just biased reporting.

And they wonder why most media outlets are tanking!

Posted by: kmday | August 13, 2009 11:48 PM | Report abuse

OMG, I am from Texas and this woman is such an embaressment to our State. I can't wait until she is voted out and someone with a brain takes her place.

Posted by: inowat | August 14, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

The captions on the video speak volumes about the mentality of the right-wingers. The ignorance and ill-will are astounding. Dissatisfaction with Rep. Lee's performance is one thing, but ill-informed and misleading questions from "constituents" is another. I though Lee handled them with aplomb. One good thing about this idiotic "outrage" is that it is driving this minority of fantasists deeper into their hole and alienating independents and anyone with the slightest capacity for critical thinking even more. I can't wait for 2012--or 2010!

Posted by: rlhannah | August 14, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Tsk! Tsk! Tsk! Mary Ann. In your rush to apologize for demonkrats, you don't seem to be able to absorb the real news. A "fake doctor" added to a "fake 11 year" old ... we clearly can't trust a single word that emits from a demonkrats mouth. Political Science degree = "jackin'-yer-jaw" and nothing more.

Posted by: IQ168 | August 14, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

she could not care less what the people think about what she did,this is how most blacks act towards white's,wonder how she would have acted towards one of her own.and she had the most lame excuse i have ever heard.

Posted by: nlb1954 | August 15, 2009 10:09 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if Ms "Sleuth" would do the right thing and print up an article about how Shelia planted a graduate student in her audience you blatantly lie and put her self off as a Doctor. I mean seriously, she lies about being a doctor and is not even done with her masters degree at the university of houston? Where is that report?
It's posted right next to the copy of W's honorable discharge and Jeff Gannon's diploma from an accredited journalism school.

Soon to be on display at W's liberry. You may want to bring extra crayons to W's liberry. I've heard that it will contain finshed copies of those books that Rove said W was finishing every month. And there is a live interaction section so that everyone who ever voted for W can also see if they are smart enough to stay inside the lines.

Except for My Pet Goat. That will be displayed under plexiglass as that is W's favorite book and probably the only one that he actually read.

Texas is too stupid to be part of this country anymore. You gripe about this woman, who I agree is pretty stupid, but you gave us Bush and NO ONE can top that f@ckup. What's another poor politician to you guys ? You've got a whole state full of them.

Posted by: dennissuper | August 17, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

So, my question for Rep. Jackson Lee is, if she is so well versed on health care issues, and knows enough about the bill to be in favor of it, why does she even need to call the hotline? I will give you that no one is going to know every detail of a bill that big. However, she was seeking answers to a series of questions? What is the point of holding a town hall if you don't know what you are talking about? She is in favor of the bill, yet knows so little about it she had to call the hotline "seeking answers to a number of questions about particular elements of the health care bill moving through Congress." This is exactly why people don't trust Congress, they are for or against bills they haven't even read.

Posted by: mathewcarson1975 | August 17, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

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