Rep. Andy Harris a No-Show at Activists’ Fake Constituent Service Day
Adam Eidinger sat on a couch in Rep. Andy Harris' office talking to the woman working the front desk—who was half listening to him and half trying not to laugh—about all the District residents who travel to Ocean City, Md., only to get ripped off by those claw-crane machines. There's so much cheap booze in Ocean City, Eidinger continued, that people make stupid decisions and waste even more money trying to win elusive prizes in the claw machine.
"I believe District residents are being ripped off in Ocean City," said Eidinger, a local marijuana activist who runs the D.C. Cannabis Campaign. "It's like this claw comes down and they don't really win anything."
Eidinger was trying to highlight the supposed hypocrisy of Harris introducing an amendment to defund D.C.'s marijuana decriminalization law even though he represents a district in Maryland known, in part, for its abundance of alcohol, which Eidinger argues is far more dangerous than marijuana. Plus, given all the purported ethical issues surrounding the claw machine, it seems Harris has enough to focus on in own district without meddling in D.C's local affairs.
Eidinger was one of about two dozen activists and D.C. residents who bombarded Harris' office today as part of a fake "DC Councilmember Andy Harris Constituent Service Day" organized by DC Vote. The District voting rights group asked D.C. residents to visit Harris's office in order to air their grievances involving local matters. Harris was a no-show, but his chief of staff, Kevin Reigrut, met with residents one by one and said they could call and schedule a meeting with the Republican congressman.
Deb Stern, a Web designer, came to complain about the cracks on the sidewalk near her D.C. home, while Ramin Katirai came prepared with photos of the smelly Porta-A-Potties right outside his Shaw home. (Reigrut instructed them to fill out a Constituent Authorization Form.) Both Stern and Katirai tried to argue with the chief of staff that Harris' amendment to a spending bill that would prohibit the District from spending any of its own money enforcing its new marijuana decriminalization law was a violation of their basic constitutional rights.
"The United States is going to assert these laws when it feels necessary," Reigrut said, adding that the constitution does allow for Harris to interfere with D.C. laws.
Organizers of the event placed voter registration forms on a table in the hallway outside of Harris' Longworth office so the congressman could register as a D.C. voter. U.S. Capitol police were on hand to make sure the crowd of journalists and activists weren't blocking the hallway, threatening to arrest anyone who turned the gathering into a demonstration.
No one was arrested and no one, not even Eidinger, lit a joint.
"I'd smoke a joint, but I didn't bring any," he said in Harris' office.
Photo by Perry Stein.