The Newnan Times-Herald

Opinion

Mr. Congressman, we need to talk


  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Jul. 25, 2018 - 6:20 AM

Last week, U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson introduced the American Border Act, H.R. 6415.

The bill proposes spending $23.4 billion for border security, including $16.625 billion for “a border wall system along the southern border of the United States.” This is a significant piece of proposed legislation, which has the potential to be a historical action on the part of the U.S. government.

If only Mr. Ferguson would talk about his bill.

When his office sent a press release announcing H.R. 6415, we attempted to contact him.

We wanted to hear what led Drew Ferguson to propose this ambitious project. Billions of dollars have to come from somewhere, so how does he plan to fund the wall? Will it come from new taxes? If it comes from savings in the budget, what would be cut to fund it?

The response we received was that Mr. Ferguson “did not have any availability,” along with a suggestion that we use the quote from the press release.

When we persisted, his communications director, Amy Timmerman, suggested we email questions to Mr. Ferguson’s “policy team.”

We did not, however, have questions for the “policy team.” No one in Coweta County voted for his policy team, nor will anyone from that policy team be on ballots here in November.

We were later told that Mr. Ferguson did attempt to call our editor twice. Although our reporters have been in regular contact with his office and have gotten telephone calls on our cell phones in the past, the only call we received was at a home number.

That reporter was not at home, and upon calling the number back, got a recording that stated, “You have reached a non-working number at the U.S. House of Representatives.”

Efforts to contact Mr. Ferguson the following day by phone and email were also unsuccessful.

In April, when the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce held political forums at Central Educational Center, Mr. Ferguson was the only no-show in his race.

His Republican opponent, Philip Singleton, and the Democrats seeking the post, Chuck Enderlin and Rusty Oliver, all attended. They answered questions from panelists, asked for votes and visited with forum attendees before and after the televised event.

Mr. Ferguson sent a taped message.

There may be political wisdom in Mr. Ferguson’s actions. He is a Republican incumbent in a conservative district. Being in Washington, surrounded by a phalanx of press people and policy team members, may help him get re-elected.

But it is not ethical, and it is not right.

The First Amendment guarantees the right of a free press, allowing citizens to hold elected officials accountable, to ensure government transparency and protect from political corruption.

Many of our Congressional representatives in the past have understood that interaction with the press and the people they represent are part of their job.

The residents of Coweta County and the 3rd District deserve a representative who is more than a shadow on the wall, more than a phantom represented by underlings.

Mr. Ferguson, your constituents want to talk with you.