U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy cancels Pittsburgh event to dodge his constituents

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Congressman Tim Murphy - PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
  • Congressman Tim Murphy
U.S. House Reps return to their districts this week and a group of constituents of Congressman Tim Murphy (R-Upper St. Clair) were hoping to speak to him. And when they couldn't reach him, the group decided to speak to their representative at a planned event at Duquesne University but he cancelled when he heard they were coming.

Angela Wateska of Scott Township says she has reached out to Murphy’s Mount Lebanon office several times to request a meeting or a town hall, but workers there have been non-committal. They even told her to call Murphy’s Washington, D.C., office, which she did, and the D.C. office then claimed ignorance. So with her frustrations mounting, Wateska organized a group of six other Murphy constituents to confront Murphy face to face.

When Wateska’s group, called “412 Resistance,” caught word of a talk Murphy was holding at Duquesne University on Feb. 21, they decided to attend and ask their questions, mostly about the Affordable Care Act. A photo of the flyer for the event sent to City Paper, has no mention that the event was a private-function.

“We have been asking him for an actual town hall, and he won't do that,” says Wateska. “So we thought this was our one chance to ask him some questions.”

However, Murphy found out about the group trying to attend the event, and cancelled less than an hour before the start of the talk at 2:30 p.m.

“We were disappointed to learn that Congressman Murphy’s long-planned tour of the Duquesne University Psychology Department and discussion with students on his Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act had to be cancelled today,” wrote Murphy’s Press Secretary Carly Atchison in an email to CP. “Duquesne staff brought to our attention at the last minute that organizations not affiliated with the university were planning to disrupt the discussion and campus security was unable to guarantee the safety of all involved.”

Those constituents waiting to talk to him, including Wateska, were shocked. Wateska objects to the idea that she or any other constituent were there to disrupt.

“We didn't plan to protest at all,” says Watseka. “We just wanted a discussion with our representative. We wanted to ask questions on health care, like how people potentially losing the ACA will stay covered.”

Wateska said that most members wanted to ask him general questions about his policies, but a member of the group was planning to ask a question concerning mental health and how it relates to gun control. Murphy, a psychologist, has long pushed mental-health reform and the subject of the Duquesne talk was “Helping Families in Mental Health Crises Act.”

Wateska is disappointed Murphy would avoid face-to-face questions from his constituents.

“It is incredibly disappointing,” says Wateska. “A lot of take time out of our work and he bails, it is his job, he is our representative.”

Wateska and her group are not the only constituents Murphy hasn't met with. A group that calls themselves “Mondays with Murphy” (a riff on the Tuesdays with Toomey) has been trying to meet with Murphy for three weeks, according to Lynne Hughes of the group. Hughes, of Mount Lebanon says the group has met many times to try to talk to Murphy, sometimes bringing out more than 40 constituents, but has had no response from the congressman.

Wateska says that Murphy should not consider a group of his constituents as against him.

“It is also disappointing that he thinks of us disrupters when we are just looking at it as an opportunity to speak to him,” says Wateska. “Right now, my expectations are really low to ever have a meeting.”


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