U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers and constituent Ron Woodard of Cary, an activist opposed to illegal immigration, got into an argument last week about whether people working in the United States without documentation should be given work permits.
Woodard, the director of the non-profit group NC Listen, set up a meeting with Ellmers for himself and nine other constituents. He said that during their talk, Ellmers called him “dense” and “ignorant” and a racist.
Two short video clips of the conversation were posted on YouTube and were also linked in a blog by Slate.com.
There is no image of Ellmers arguing with Woodard, but still it harkens back to the 2012 election campaign when Republican trackers, posing as “students working on a project,” questioned and then started taping then-Rep. Bob Etheridge. Etheridge grabbed one of the men by the wrist, then briefly by the neck, and then around the shoulder. It was posted by the late Andrew Breitbart on his website Big Government, and went viral. The site was also the first to post the Ellmers video.
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Woodard said the videos were made by two tea party members in the group. The videos don’t show Ellmers or Woodard, but their voices can be heard.
“We were taken aback by her approach,” Woodard said. “If she had just listened to our point of view it would have been a non-event.” A post he wrote about the meeting appears on Conservative HQ.com.
“This is another Laura Ingraham moment. You are dancing around the issue,” Woodard is heard to say in one of the videos,” referring to a testy exchange earlier in the month between Ellmers and the conservative radio host.
Woodard argued that many people are out of work and need jobs that are being taken by people who have immigrated illegally. Ellmers responded by using the example of contractors who, she said, can’t find enough American workers to hire.
“You don’t have any damn facts,” Ellmers says at one point. She adds that Woodard is upset about a “personal issue you experienced,” and adds, “Now I know where your hatred and vitriol is coming from.” He can be heard denying this was the case.
“The congresswoman was in a situation where her positions and record were repeatedly called into question. Her integrity and moral compass are very important to her and she firmly made that case,” her communications director, Tom Doheny, said in a statement, declining to elaborate.
Ellmers, a Republican from Dunn who represents North Carolina’s District 2, has said she wants to secure the nation’s borders and grant some legal status that is short of citizenship to workers who are in the country already without documentation. She outlined her suggestions for immigration policy in an op-ed in the Fayetteville Observer in January.