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Some Facebook readers flagged as "fake news" a March 2, 2017 article that carried this headline about Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson:
Republican Senator Threatens Citizens with Arrest if They Continue Asking for a Town Hall
The article was published by Resistance Report, which describes itself as a "social justice-oriented media company dedicated to providing the bold, combative, thought-provoking journalism that will be critical over the next four years."
So, we thought we’d see whether Johnson made such a threat.
The article accuses Johnson of dodging requests to hold town hall meetings, but eventually responding to the requests with a "cease-and-desist" letter.
But that letter had nothing to do with town hall meetings.
As we reported on the same day the Resistance Report article was published, Johnson had sent a letter to a Milwaukee man who acknowledged he had called Johnson’s office as many as 83 times in a day. The letter warned that if the man visited or called Johnson’s office (written communication was OK), staff would call U.S. Capitol Police.
Citizen Action of Wisconsin had cited the letter in claiming that "people who come to" their dissent actions "get a ‘cease and desist’ letter" from Johnson's office. We rated the group’s claim False. The man was involved in some Citizen Action activities involving Johnson. But the letter was based on his personal contact with Johnson’s office, not any Citizen Action activities.
(A few days later, Citizen Action posted an apology for making its claim.)
Tom Cahill, an editor for Resistance Report, told us that since the man "had called his senator's office 83 times, it seems as if his goal is for Johnson to hold a public town hall so his senator can answer his questions directly."
But that is complete speculation.
The letter also went to a single person. It was not a general response to "citizens" who may request a town hall meeting, as the article claimed.
Resistance Report says Johnson "threatens citizens with arrest if they continue asking for a town hall."
A letter by Johnson’s office that was cited by the group warned a man that if he did not stop calling and visiting Johnson’s office, the Capitol Police would be called. The letter had nothing to do with town hall meetings.
We rate the statement Pants on Fire.
Resistance Report, "Republican Senator Threatens Citizens with Arrest if They Continue Asking for a Town Hall," March 2, 2017
Email, Resistance Report editor Tom Cahill, March 6, 2017
PolitiFact Wisconsin, "Group falsely claims that GOP Sen. Ron Johnson sends 'cease-and-desist' letters to activists," March 2, 2017
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