HOT SPRINGS VILLAGE, Ark. (KTHV) – Approximately 10 members of the Democratic Party of Garland County were denied entry to U.S. Representative Bruce Westerman’s “Biscuits with Bruce” campaign event on Thursday.
When checking in, those who RSVP’d for the event in Hot Springs Village were asked if they were supporters of the Congressman.
“We said we were not, but we are his constituents,” Amy Tweedle told THV11. “We were then told we were not allowed in. I then went to my car and got some signs left from a rally last week. We remained with our signs for the duration of the event.” Tweedle took a Facebook live video after being denied entrance.
Ryan Saylor, spokesman for Congressman Westerman, said the event was publicized on the Westerman’s Facebook page, but it was a private campaign event with grassroots supporters.
“I want to make it clear that the Congressman advertised the event publicly on Facebook and the newspaper,” Tweedle said. “The only requirement was that you RSVP, which I did. It said nothing about having to be a supporter of the Congressman to attend.”
Mr. Saylor confirmed that non-supporters were indeed turned away at the event entrance; however, he reiterated that this is typical of a campaign event.
Congressman French Hill, Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, and Land Commissioner John Thurston were included as special guests on the Facebook event description.
“It is a campaign event, not a town hall. The attendees were asked if they were supporters. They said they were not. Based on that, they were denied entry,” said Saylor.
Westerman did hold a town hall in Hot Springs Village back in April, and Saylor said the congressman has met with the Democratic Party of Garland County several times.
“We all had questions prepared,” said Tweedle. “We had no intention to be loud or disruptive or even bring signs, but had to resort to that when we were denied entry.”
Hayden Shamel, chair of the Democratic Party of Garland County, says the DPGC is calling on Congressman Westerman to hold a public town hall in Hot Springs while he is on recess to address these and other concerns.