Congressman Coffman leaves frustrated crowd

9NEWS at 10 p.m. 1/14/17

AURORA - When Berthie Ruoff arrived at the Aurora Central Library to meet with Congressman Mike Coffman, she was hopeful to find encouraging answers about the impending changes to the Affordable Care Act.

"My husband passed away and the only way I was able to get insurance was through the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare," Ruoff said.

When she walked in, she saw a crowd she didn't expect.

"There were hundreds of people here," Ruoff said.

Kronda Seibert just wanted Coffman to hear her concerns. But, she ended up trying to organize the crowd that gathered outside the large community room.

"The representative didn't have a plan. They expected just a small handful of people to show up," Seibert said. "We were under the understanding it was a town hall meeting and they were only allowing four people in at a time."

Coffman's chief of staff, Ben Stein, sent a statement addressing what happened Saturday afternoon. The statement says the Congressman's community event was not a town hall.

"Rep. Mike Coffman routinely hosts constituent one on one meetings across the district.  Constituents are invited to meet individually with the congressman to express their opinions, seek help with a range of issues, and discuss legislation. Given the volume of people who came, the Congressman met with four people at a time for five minutes each for a total of more than 70 constituents," the statement said.

Coffman himself took to Facebook on Sunday afternoon to further clarify what he says was meant to be five minute one-on-one constituent meetings. 

"Yesterday was unfortunate because partisan activists showed up only to disrupt the event I was holding at Aurora Central Library. I have been doing five minute one-on-one constituent meetings for the last five years although I do allow small groups, if they share the same issue concerns. This gives an opportunity for everyone to be heard and not just the loudest voices in the room.

Through some of the most contentious elections in the history of this state, these meetings have generally been a civil and straightforward exchange with the good people I represent. Yesterday, activists angry about the election results and angry about the impending repeal of Obamacare came with the goal of making a show. That's their right. But the great majority of Americans want the Obamacare mess cleaned up. My resolve isn't the least bit shaken by these antics - the American people want Obamacare repealed and replaced."

Ruoff was not one of the people who got to meet with Coffman. 

"I am trying to get an answer and I can't even get in," Ruoff said.

While the crowd was waiting inside the lobby, singing and chanting, Aurora Police officers are putting up crime scene tape to create a perimeter outside of the library. This allowed Coffman to leave secretly at about 3:24 p.m. unbeknownst to those still waiting to see him. The community event was scheduled from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

"We were told at one point everyone would get their time and then he sneaks out six minutes early. I think he couldn't handle it," Stephanie Brook Chavez, Aurora resident, said.

Stein's statement reads, "Unfortunately, we only reserved the room at the Aurora Central Library for 90 minutes, which is usually plenty of time to see everyone. For those who were unable to see the Congressman today we apologize. These constituents are invited to attend upcoming meeting opportunities and we will block more time so that he can hear from more of his constituents."

Ruoff still has questions.

"I am potentially going to lose my health insurance. I've had a preexisting condition. I've had breast cancer. What's going to happen to me?" Ruoff said. "My spouse who had health insurance passed away. What do I do? You know, what am I supposed to do?"

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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