Should you be able to ask for a meeting with your state senator without being reported to the cops?
The obvious answer is yes, but a recent incident involving Sen. Stephanie Flowers shows she doesn’t think so.
You see, Ed Monk, one of Flowers’s constituents, recently emailed Flowers to ask for a meeting with her about House Bill 1249, the “Campus Carry” bill. Monk supports the legislation; Flowers opposes it. Nevertheless, as a retired Army officer, U.S. Military Academy graduate, firearms instructor, and part-time police officer in Jefferson County, Monk said he thought his expertise on the topic might be beneficial to her decision on the bill.
Unfortunately, according to Monk, the response was from state law enforcement instead of Flowers.
Three days after his e-mail to Flowers on February 24, an Arkansas State Police captain contacted Monk’s supervisor — who told him that Monk had to be forcibly removed from the State Capitol the previous day for confronting a legislator in a rowdy, disturbing manner.
According to Monk, he wasn’t even in Little Rock on that day. Monk said he hasn’t determined who started the rumor that the State Police spread.
Things got more interesting on February 27, when Monk said he learned that the Capitol Police had been given a copy of his email to Flowers on the basis of its allegedly threatening and harassing nature.
A spokesman for the Arkansas Secretary of State’s Office confirmed receipt of the email in an interview today.
Chris Powell, spokesman for the Secretary of State, said in an interview that Sen. Flowers had given the Senate Sergeant-At-Arms copies of communications from Mr. Monk to examine. Based on the concerns that Sen. Flowers had expressed, the Senate Sergeant-At-Arms gave those copies to the Capitol police, but the Capitol Police (according to Powell) had not found those communications from Mr. Monk to be of a threatening nature.
Here is the complete text of the allegedly threatening letter sent by Monk to Flowers on February 21:
I am a constituent. It is my understanding that you oppose HB 1249, which would allow certain holders of an Arkansas Concealed Handgun Carry Licenses to legally carry their defensive handgun in college buildings.
I respectfully request to meet with you at your earliest convenience to discuss this bill and this topic. I am a law enforcement officer, professional firearms trainer, a retired Army officer, and a former school teacher. I have researched, lectured on, and provided training on the Active Shooter threat for over 10 years.
I have data on this topic I would like to share with you, my elected representative (Senator) that I think should be considered when making decisions, policies, and law that affect people’s safety. I would also like to hear your views and try to understand your reasons for opposing self-defense inside college buildings.
Please contact me when it is convenient, and let me know when and where we could have a discussion about this.
Lieutenant Colonel, US Army (Retired)
I’ve (thank God!) never served in the Legislature, but my suspicion is that members often receive communications from constituents and non-constituents that are much more impolite and aggressive than the above letter. If Monk’s letter is considered threatening, then there are a lot of #arpx Twitter users going to jail soon.
Although he had not received any response from Flowers, Monk sent a follow-up email on February 28 after he learned his previous email had been sent to the Capitol Police.
Here is the letter in full:
This email is just a polite reminder that I wish to meet and speak with you as your constituent. I understand that you must be very busy while the Legislature is in session. So I am willing to meet at your convenience, as your schedule will allow.
In addition to HB1249 that I referenced in my FEB 21 email, I now have additional important topics I would like to discuss with you. These include: (1) my protected right to petition government (officials) for redress of grievances; (2) the possibility that those rights have been violated through wrongful attempts of intimidation, defamation and slander; (3) the possible wrongful use of state law enforcement agencies to interfere with these rights of a constituent to freely communicate with his/her elected official; (4) the possibility that a state law enforcement agency has created and communicated completely fabricated, false accusations of misconduct about me based on the above.
As an elected representative who has sworn to defend Constitutional rights, the same oath I have taken, I hope that you agree that such abuses, if true, are extremely serious civil rights violations.
I also hope you understand that as a business owner, law enforcement officer, retired Army officer, combat veteran, graduate of the US Military Academy, and community volunteer, I am proud of and value my reputation, name, and honor. I hope you will assist me in identifying anyone in a government position who might have intentionally defamed my reputation for political reasons, or who may have attempted to interfere with and suppress my enumerated, protected rights.
Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
Lieutenant Colonel, US Army (Retired)
Unfortunately, I haven’t had any luck contacting Flowers either. I’ve left her a (very polite and non-threatening!) voicemail, and I’ll update this post if she responds.
I’m pretty sure there will be future posts to come on this topic. Some questions that need to be answered are: 1.) Who was the source of the rumor that Monk was physically removed from the Capitol? 2.) Why was a request from a constituent, which seems reasonably polite on its face, forwarded to the Capitol Police? 3.) Will the Arkansas State Police be open and transparent with Monk in his search for answers?