Tuesday, July 7, 2009

"Baucus 13" settle "disruption of Congress" charges

The 13 health-care activists who were arrested in May for protesting the exclusion of single-payer health care from two Senate Finance Committee roundtable discussions on health care reform have settled their cases in court.

Montana Sen. Max Baucus ordered capitol police to remove eight protesters (pictured left) at a May 5 Senate Finance Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., and five more protesters were arrested May 12 for committing a similar act of civil disobedience.

Each of the so-called "Baucus 13" was charged with "disruption of Congress" for interrupting the hearings and demanding that Baucus include single-payer universal healthcare in the Senate's discussion of health care reform options.

Under the terms of last week's settlements, all charges will be dismissed if the protesters stay out of legal trouble for six to 12 months. Some of the protesters were also ordered to perform 40 hours of community service, according Donna Smith of the California Nurses Association.

Single-payer advocates who participated in a closed-door meeting with Baucus in June told reporters after the meeting that Baucus said he would try to intervene to have the charges dropped against the 13 protesters.

Smith said she did not know if Baucus followed through on that promise.

"We know as of the very first status hearing on June 22 that there had been no such intervention," Smith said. "We do not know from June 22 to June 29 whether or not Sen. Baucus sent a letter to prosecutors."

Baucus' office refused to comment on whether he attempted to intervene on the protester's behalf because as member of the legislative branch, Baucus doesn't comment on legal matters involving the judicial branch.

"Senator Baucus is focused on passing meaningful health care reform, and he looks forward to continuing to work with individuals and groups from across the state to get this done," said Baucus spokesman Ty Matsdorf.


Anonymous said...

Ty Matsdorf has three phrases he continues to use over and over again when dealing with the press, and he's been in the press so much lately that you can see the three phrases rotate through each interview!

Anonymous said...

Baucus ought to do forty hours of community service some time.

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