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Protests Prevent New Hampshire Citizens from Getting Help

(Manchester, NH) - Hordes of organized protestors have been showing up at office hours hosted by staff members of U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, intimidating people who had come to get help from the Senator's office on personal issues.  The protests have been organized by the New Hampshire Tea Party Coalition and other groups opposed to health care reform.  Protesters were present at office hours held today in Grafton and yesterday in Hampstead.

"It's a disgrace for an organization to deliberately try to prevent people from getting help from their elected representatives," said Shaheen.  "The people who come to my office for help are veterans needing assistance with the VA, senior citizens who need help with Social Security, and small business owners who are having trouble in our tough economy.  New Hampshire citizens have a right to get the help they need from the federal government.  Their rights have been trampled on."

The regularly scheduled office hours are a way for Shaheen's constituent service staff to get out into the community and be accessible to constituents with problems.  These staff members are trained to help constituents navigate the federal government to get the help they need. They regularly travel across the state to meet with New Hampshire citizens in Town Halls and regional offices.   

"These are not town hall meetings but rather office hours that we host in Town Halls across the state in order to make our caseworkers available to New Hampshire citizens who need help," said Shaheen.  "The organizations that staged these protests knew these weren't town hall meetings because we called them to tell them so.  I recognize the right of people on both sides of the aisle to protest, but impeding the ability of New Hampshire citizens to get the help they need is a line that shouldn't be crossed.  They should be ashamed."

Earlier this week, some protest groups emailed and posted online misleading descriptions of Shaheen's staff office hours.  The mislabeling of the meetings was intended to drum up protestors who have been given instructions to disrupt town meetings.  At the Hampstead office hours held yesterday, dozens of screaming protestors showed up, holding anti-health care placards and videotaping Shaheen staff and others who arrived at the Town Hall.  In Grafton today, constituents coming to discuss personal matters asked the protesters to stop videotaping them, but the protestors refused. The protestors were told over and over again that Shaheen staff were there for office hours with constituents but continued to protest anyway.