NEW YORK — David Hogg and other activists from the #NeverAgain movement are helping to lead the Town Hall for Our Lives project, a series of forums across the country seeking to get lawmakers to push for stronger gun-control measures.
The town halls are being assembled by professional progressive activists, with primary participation from Indivisible, a radical organization that describes itself as a “progressive grassroots network of local groups” seeking to “resist the Trump Agenda.”
The town halls are also being organized by a group calling itself the Town Hall Project, which is assisting the organizers of the March for Our Lives movement to stage the town hall forums nationwide.
The Town Hall Project is led by professional organizers. It gained notoriety when it organized activists last year to support progressive healthcare legislation.
Hogg and the March for Our Lives organizers are seeking to channel the energy of anti-gun protesters into town halls for every member of Congress during the current recess that ends April 9, promoting the campaign on Twitter as #TownHallForOurLives.
Vox.com reported on the town hall plan:
Congress is on recess through April 8 (April 9 for the House), so some lawmakers already have town halls scheduled. March for Our Lives and the Town Hall Project are encouraging gun control activists to rally around those already established events — or pressure representatives without a town hall scheduled to host one next week.
David Hogg, a Parkland survivor and one of the March for Our Lives organizers, said this goes for Republican and Democratic Congress members — they want all 435 representatives to participate. If not, primary and general elections opponents will be invited to attend in their places, or activists will consider holding an “empty chair town hall” to call attention to their absence. “We’re not for Democrats or Republicans,” Hogg said. “We’re simply trying to save kids.”
According to Hogg, more than 100 town halls have been scheduled. Hogg said he hopes activists hold politicians accountable for accepting money from the National Rifle Association and the gun lobby, though he encouraged all constituents to attend — not just advocates of gun control, but those who have opinions about school safety or mental health policy.
The Town Hall Project, Hogg and Indivisible each have issued calls for the nationwide forums with lawmakers during the current recess, with Hogg pointing activists to the Town Hall Project:
— Town Hall Project (@townhallproject) March 26, 2018
— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) April 2, 2018
51 members of Congress holding town halls this recess.
22 fully confirmed THFOL events on the site and over 300 organizers in 144 districts working to secure others. We should confirm at least 5 more by end of day. #TownHallForOurLives
— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) March 29, 2018
Are you joining a #TownHallForOurLives in your area? Here are some sample questions you can ask your Members of Congress at the event👇@townhallproject @AMarch4OurLives https://t.co/r2pArcOiwo pic.twitter.com/X8HeM2HeJ5
— Indivisible Guide (@IndivisibleTeam) April 4, 2018
Indivisible has also cited Hogg in promoting the town halls:
April 7, 2018
— Indivisible MN-03 (@IndivisibleMN03) March 31, 2018
The Town Hall Project is led by former organizers for the presidential campaigns of both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
The group boasts a small leadership team of four activists, with the official bios of three organizers boasting about their involvement in Democratic presidential campaigns (emphasis added):
Jimmy Dahman – Executive Director – Prior to starting Town Hall Project, Jimmy organized for and managed numerous electoral and issue campaigns across more than ten states, including managing over 70 organizers in Northeast Ohio for Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Megan Riel-Mehan – Lead Web Developer – Megan is a PhD chemical biologist and experienced web developer, currently specializing in visualizing cell biology at the Allen Institute in Seattle.
Nathan Williams – Managing Director – Nathan has volunteered or worked on numerous issue and candidate campaigns since 2000, including the 2008 Obama campaign. He is also an award-winning independent filmmaker.
Juliana Amin – National Organizing Director – Before Town Hall Project, Juliana built organizing programs across the country over multiple cycles. Most recently she oversaw a team of more than 60 staff in Ohio for the Clinton campaign in 2016.
The Town Hall Project website links to only two outside resource kits for assistance on how to organize. One of those kits is the “Town Hall strategy resources” from the Indivisible Movement. The other is the “Recess Toolkit” published by the Center for American Progress (CAP).
Last year, Breitbart News extensively reported that Indivisible leaders have been professional activists openly associated with groups financed by billionaire George Soros.
Also last year, Organizing for Action (OFA), the activist group that morphed from Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign, partnered with the Indivisible Project for “online trainings” on how to protest Trump’s agenda.
OFA is also promoting Hogg’s town hall campaign:
REMINDER: Congressional recess is happening right now. Our reps and senators *should* be holding town halls/listening sessions/office hours. Check https://t.co/LTlXOo9MLH and follow @townhallproject for updates, and show up!
— OFA (@OFA) March 30, 2018
Both the House and Senate are on recess for the next two weeks. That means your elected officials should be holding town halls to hear directly from you on the issues you care about. Follow @townhallproject and visit https://t.co/LTlXOo9MLH to find an event near you.
— OFA (@OFA) March 26, 2018
Indivisible’s DC branch was implicated last February in a scuffle that reportedly injured a 71-year-old staffer for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) as well as reportedly knocking a two-year-old to the ground. Indivisible protesters claimed they were only delivering Valentine’s Day cards.
CAP, meanwhile, was co-founded by John Podesta, who served as Bill Clinton’s chief of staff and was co-director of Obama’s White House transition team in 2009. Podesta served as chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
The CAP is financed in significant part by Soros. When it was first founded in 2003, Soros pledged up to $3 million for the group. The billionaire has since provided numerous annual grants to CAP, including a $400,000 grant in 2013 for the CAP’s campus activism wing, a $350,000 grant in 2012 to their legal action arm and numerous other grants. CAP has also received near-annual grants from the Soros-funded Tides Foundation.
The Town Hall Project says it is supported by “hundreds of grassroots donors” and lists only one “partner” by name, the NextGen America organization.
On the main page of its official website, NextGen America calls for “resistance” in the progressive battle for environmental activism as well as “the fight for immigrant rights, affordable health care and core American values.”
NextGen America was founded by Democratic mega donor Tom Steyer.
Town Hall Project Managing Director Nathan Williams has described his group’s mission thusly: “It’s safe to say most of our team are motivated by a desire to fight the Trump agenda.”
Williams told McClatchy last week that the aim is to hold 535 town halls over Congressional recess. “This is not an unreasonable thing to expect. If they can meet with donors every recess they can take an hour to talk to constituents – it is called ‘district work period,’” said Williams. “But yes, it’s safe to say that not all 535 will host town halls over recess. There will probably be mostly empty chair town halls on the seventh.”
McClatchy further reported:
Williams said they’ve gotten calls from more than 300 potential organizers from about 130 districts on hosting town halls on April 7. If the member of Congress refuses to show up, they’ll have an “empty chair” town hall, inviting members’ campaign opponents and hosting constituents to voice their concerns. So far, 48 members of Congress have in-person town halls scheduled over the recess, and about a third of them are Republicans.
More than a dozen such empty chair town halls were officially organized by Thursday, including ones for Reps. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., Ken Buck, R-Colo., Ron Estes, R-Kan., Erik Paulsen, R-Minn., and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.
But March for Our Lives organizers, coming off a weekend that saw hundreds of thousands of people participate in rallies for gun control reform across the nation, aren’t giving up. Williams said Town Hall Project reached out a week before the march to offer its help and floated the idea that this march happening before a recess was a great time to demand town halls. The Parkland students have been pushing people over social media to organize town halls since Sunday.
Last year, following a violent scuffle at an event with Rohrabacher, Republican lawmakers expressed concern for their safety at town hall events. The concern came amid calls for stepped-up activism at town halls from a coalition of professional activist groups, especially the Town Hall Project, the Soros-funded MoveOn.org, and Democracy for America. The “storm-the-town halls” strategy reportedly resulted in Republican town halls being swamped by activists.
The disruptions prompted Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and other Republican lawmakers last year to opt for the safety of telephone conference calls instead of in-person town halls, with Gohmert explaining he would hold the phone sessions “until the threat of violence at town hall meetings recedes.”
“Unfortunately, at this time there are groups from the more violent strains of the leftist ideology, some even being paid, who are preying on public town halls to wreak havoc and threaten public safety,” Gohmert wrote in a letter to his constituents at the time.
Rohrabacher criticized the Indivisible protesters who stormed his event last year as “part of a nationwide, anti-Trump mobilization” that is “engaged in political thuggery, pure and simple.”
While Hogg openly pushes the town halls along with a coalition of left-wing groups, he appeared on MSNBC on Tuesday to deny that any “shadowy figures” are behind his gun-control activism.
He was replying to a charge from Bill O’Reilly linking Hogg’s efforts to get advertisers to boycott Laura Ingraham’s television show to the Media Matters activist group.
“I’m pretty well lit — I don’t see any shadowy figures behind me,” Hogg stated. “I mean, honestly, if he sees shadowy figures as corporate America standing by us, OK, I guess. It doesn’t really make sense.”
O’Reilly made the charge following an article by this reporter documenting that the Soros-funded Media Matters has been helping to fuel Hogg’s advertising boycott targeting Laura Ingraham’s Fox News show.
The “Ingraham Angle” host last week tweeted a Daily Wire story titled “Gun Rights Provocateur David Hogg Rejected By Four Colleges To Which He Applied.” Ingraham adder her own comment: “David Hogg Rejected By Four Colleges To Which He Applied and whines about it.”
Ingraham apologized for her remarks, yet Hogg has persisted with the boycott campaign.
Hogg sprung to action immediately following Ingraham’s remarks, tweeting a list of Ingraham’s top 12 advertisers and promoting the hashtag #BoycottIngramAdverts.
Pick a number 1-12 contact the company next to that #
Top Laura Ingraham Advertisers
4. @Allstate & @esurance
6. @RocketMortgage Mortgage
— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) March 29, 2018
Media Matters the next day jumped into the anti-Ingraham campaign, promoting a list of over 130 recent advertisers on the Fox News show.
Hogg himself retweeted the larger Media Matters list of Ingraham’s television advertisers:
☺️ tweet away https://t.co/cKe4iTTulV
— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) March 29, 2018
Media Matters is known for its opposition to conservative and independent media outlets. A Media Matters briefing book obtained by the Washington Free Beacon last year at a retreat for donors listed a core budget goal for 2017 of $13.4 million, which the booklet says would pay for a staff of 81, ostensibly to wage war on independent news media outlets like Breitbart News.
Media Matters, founded by Hillary Clinton ally David Brock, is financed in part by Soros. The billionaire provided a $1 million donation in 2010 “to hold Fox News accountable for the false and misleading information they so often broadcast.”
Brock once described Media Matters as aiming to wage an all-out campaign of “guerrilla warfare and sabotage” against Fox News.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.
Joshua Klein contributed research to this article.