Rep. Sean Duffy holds townhall meeting in Rhinelander
National issues at the top of Oneida County residents’ minds
By Eileen Persike
U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy met with constituents Friday morning at the Oneida County Law Enforcement Center. The session began and ended with comments about security on the U.S. southern border. In between, voters asked for Duffy’s opinion on the Mueller investigation, the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Citzens United among other topics.
An Eagle River man said he would like to see more of the Chequamegon-Nicolet forest opened up to the public. A Rhinelander disabled veteran addressed Duffy about veterans’ benefits.
Attorney and public defender Mary Burns asked Duffy for increased federal funding to fight opioid addiction, specifically, to fund a treatment court in Oneida County.
“We can’t find grants and the county doesn’t have the money,” Burns said. “Instead, I think the county has allocated $200,000 for social services to pay for care of the kids of opioid addicts.”
Locking up the parents, she added, is not enough.
“We need treatment. Drug courts have been proven nationally to save money and we can’t get one here.”
Duffy said he would partner with the interested parties in the county, and added that there is more to the addiction problem.
“What’s happening that’s causing people to go in this direction, number one,” Duffy said. “And number two, the flow of these drugs are coming from our southern border as well. So not only is border security about who comes in and who doesn’t but the drug flow is coming from the southern border and you can’t shut it all off but it would be really helpful if we could shut some if it out.”
Asked about a bill to protect the investigation into Russian meddling during the 2016 presidential election, he said Robert Mueller’s work should continue, at the same time calling it “an absolutely atrocious investigation,” adding he believes the president will be exonerated.
“I hear these things about, ‘well someone had a meeting with someone,’ Russian,” Duffy said. “My god, people have meetings with Russia, and Czechoslovakia and Germany and china – every country has meetings with legislators and candidates…I can tell you my concern would be – did Donald trump collude with Russia to say, ‘I know what you should do, why don’t you go hack the dnc.’” That, he said, would be reason for impeachment.
Another area resident said he had a suggestion on how to “drain the swamp,” and asked Duffy to introduce legislation that would “outlaw” lobbying by corporations.
“We have a tremendous amount of lobbying by corporations who get what they want and its overriding what the majority of the citizens in the country want,” said Jeff Kuczmarski. “Like the Koch brothers. They get the tax codes and everything changed for them…talk about draining the swamp, that would drain the swamp overnight.”
Duffy then asked whether Kuczmarski was in favor of unions lobbying congress. “Unions are for the workers, they’re not for the top two percent of the people,” was Kuczmarski’s response. Duffy argued there is no difference between a union and a corporation.
“Unions take money from union members and part of that goes to making political contributions,” Duffy countered. “If G.E. says, ‘I want to make a political contribution,’ it’s the same as a union. Their employees have to give money, people – yes they do—people give money to their political action committee and that PAC can make contributions to members of congress. It’s individuals that donate to a PAC. There’s no difference between a union and a company.”
The new congress in January will consist of a Democratic majority, the first time, Duffy said, that his party will not be in control since he was elected in 2010. Duffy held four townhall meetings Friday in the Northwoods.