The visual I found on the official website of U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) at 9:42 a.m. Central today seems an appropriate metaphor for the way the longtime congressman-turned freshman senator and members of his staff have rushed to the aide of Nixa, Mo., resident John Dollarhite.
Two months ago, Dollarhite contacted Senator Blunt for help in fighting USDA fines of up to $4 million in fines for selling too many bunnies. The senator replied with an electronic letter in which he said, among other things, that “Eliminating the option of humanely reducing the horse population may lead to even greater suffering on the part of these horses.” In other words, Dollarhite said, the senator’s staffers weren’t much help and his interaction with them left him “pissed off.”
Now, fast forward to the present day, and things aren’t looking much better.
On the Facebook group page, USDA Bunny Tyranny of the Dollarhite Family, the head of the Dollarhite household posted the following status update early this morning:
Roy Blunt is for BIG Goverment….. I called Roy’s office in Springfield & Jefferson City today. They are supportive of the USDA and I should NOT have the right to own any animals of any kind because I did not have a license…… Please protest Roy’s Offices.
A short while after reading the Facebook update, I spoke with Dollarhite by phone to hear details about the calls which left him calling for protests at the senator’s offices. He gladly provided them.
After the folks at Senator Blunt’s Springfield office recommended he contact Elizabeth Behrouz at the senator’s Jefferson City office, Dollarhite said he did just that only to have the lady who answered his second call tell him that “Liz” was on the phone and, therefore, unavailable.
Dollarhite said he briefly tried to address his concerns to the nameless female voice on the phone but stopped after finding she was “very rude and very unfriendly” to the point that it was like she was telling him, “Well, you got what was coming to ya.”
Eventually, Dollarhite punted, saying, “I wasn’t going to sit there and argue and debate it with her.” Instead, he left his name and number along with a request that Behrouz call him back. A short while later, she called him.
A conversation ensued, Dollarhite said, and Behrouz told him that they could only ensure the USDA received his letters/complaints. Supporting a constituent wasn’t on the “menu” of services.
Stunned, he said he asked the woman if she believed the USDA was overstepping their bounds in coming after him in the manner in which they have, “…and she said, ‘No!'”
“It was very evident during the phone call that they’re against me,” Dollarhite said, referring to Blunt staffers represented by Behrouz.
EDITOR’S NOTE: I contacted Behrouz prior to writing this piece, but she refused to speak with me and, instead, referred my questions to Amber Marchand, communications director for the senator, who was not a party to the aforementioned phone call with Dollarhite. More on that interaction shortly.
When I asked Dollarhite if he feels like a man without a senator, he didn’t answer the question directly but did get a sharpened point across: “I’m not a Democrat, but at least (U.S. Sen.) Claire McCaskill tried.
“Claire McCaskill’s camp seems to be of the position that they think it’s a bunch of bull,” he said, adding his belief that the Blunt folks “think the USDA is just” in pursuing him with threats of nearly $4 million in fines and/or a lifetime ban on owning and breeding any animals — not just rabbits.
Shortly after 10 a.m. Central today, I called Marchand at Senator Blunt’s Washington, D.C., office, was told she was unavailable and asked to send my inquiry to her by email. At 10:14 a.m. Central, I did just that.
After providing some brief background about the Dollarhite case, I asked Marchand two questions and informed her that I had a deadline of Noon Central:
1. What, if anything, does Senator Blunt plan to do to assist Mr. Dollarhite as he tries to avoid surrendering his Constitutional rights and maintain his freedom to be the rural landowner/farmer/animal lover that he is?
2. Does Senator Blunt see any conflict of interest in the fact that the USDA person trying to impose such harsh penalties on Mr. Dollarhite is a former attorney for the Human Society of the United States? See Animal Rights Activism Fuels USDA Rabbit Chase for details.
Forty-five minutes later, Marchand replied via email: “Hey Bob, I’m in a meeting, but we do not comment on constituent casework. Thanks, Amber.”
Am I surprised that Senator Blunt’s folks seem so reluctant to discuss the Dollarhite case? Not at all. After all, this case involves fighting for Constitutional rights and freedoms — things members of the Tea Party Movement cherish — and the senator is definitely not a Tea Party guy.
If you don’t believe me, step back in time to Feb. 28, 2010, when Senator Blunt was in the heat of a Republican primary race for the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by Kit Bond’s retirement. What he said during an interview with me — which begins about 15 seconds into the video below — led me to a conclusion that would become the headline of a post published later that day: Roy Blunt Needs Education About Tea Party Folks.
Despite being against him during the primary, I highlighted a handshake conversation I had with Senator Blunt in a pre-general election post, Everything Changes After the Primary Ends. I told the senator that, despite the fact that I rode him hard during the primary, he had my support in the general election. After all, I thought the ultra-liberal Democrat nominee Robin Carnahan was a much worse option. Today, I’m not sure there’s much of a difference between the two of ’em.