A labor journalist/activist has pressed charges against a staffer for Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and a Honeywell vice president in the wake of a confrontation at an event at the Capitol Visitor Center. The Capitol Police are investigating.
Mike Elk, a reporter for the Chicago-based liberal magazine In These Times, said that Scott senior aide Nick Muzin “assaulted” him when he tried to ask a question at an event on Thursday.
The Capitol Police will issue a report to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, which will make the final determination on whether to prosecute.
In an interview with Roll Call, Elk described what transpired at the event hosted by Scott.
As documented by video footage viewed by Roll Call taken during the question-and-answer session of the event, Elk stood and received the microphone to ask Honeywell CEO David Cote about the firm’s labor practices.
As Elk describes it — and as seen in the video clip — Muzin tried several times to grab the microphone out of his hands as he attempted to question Cote. As the tussle escalated, Elk shouted: “I’m a member of the press!” and “You have no right to touch me!”
Elk said Muzin was trying to take hold of his arm and pull him out of the room.
In addition to filing charges against Muzin, Elk also filed charges against Rob Ferris, Honeywell’s vice president of external communications. Elk alleges that Ferris physically restrained him from following Cote out of the room through a side door at the conclusion of the event.
“He stood in front of the door and told me it was locked and that I couldn’t get out, which was a lie,” Elk told Roll Call.
He is charging Ferris with “false imprisonment” and is discussing with lawyers the possibility of pursuing a civil suit.
Neither confrontation transpired quietly, and Scott intervened during both incidents in attempts to mediate.
Elk said he waited to press charges until he had an opportunity to speak with “editors and some friends.”
“We see a situation here where Honeywall PR guys are locking people up ... and staffers are manhandling people,” Elk said of his decision to press charges against both men. “We are supposed to have free and unfettered access to public spaces.”
“We have no comment on pending legal matters,” Scott spokesman Seth Smith told Roll Call.
Capitol Police spokeswoman Lt. Kimberly Schneider said the force “is currently investigating the report.”
Honeywell responded with a written statement.
“Mr. Elk’s unprofessional behavior at the ‘Revitalizing America: Encouraging Entrepreneurship’ summit in Washington DC disrupted what was supposed to be a positive and open forum ... and caused event organizers to dismiss him from the room. His account of the subsequent events is inaccurate and other claims are without merit,” spokeswoman Victoria Ann Streitfeld wrote.
Preparations Begin for the 113th Congress
“Congressional transition season approaches.”
That’s how House Chief Administrative Officer Dan Strodel, in a recent “Dear Colleague” letter, characterized the approaching end of the 112th Congress.
As in years past, the CAO has launched an internal website to help House Members prepare for the 113th Congress, whether they are arriving, leaving or sticking around.
“We’ve streamlined the website to make it more user-friendly and easier to navigate,” CAO spokesman Dan Weiser said.
The “Departing Members” portion of that site has gone live, providing lawmakers and their offices with the information they need to wind down their operations. There are already more than two dozen Members who are retiring, running for another office or have lost primaries.
In addition to including dates for information sessions and locations for shredding documents, a checklist of 39 tasks includes “notify landlord and financial counselor with exact vacating date for each district office” and “email Citibank Visa account number to your financial counselor.”
There are also resources to help Members and staffers prepare for whatever emotions they might experience during the transition.
“Thank you for your service and dedication to the U.S. House of Representatives and the constituents of your District,” the site reads. “Departing from Congress can be an overwhelming process. This website will help you navigate all the things that must be done before you leave.”
The section of the website for returning Members will go live in August, and the page for new Members will go up in November.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.