The Republican party's civil war is fierce in Texas, where a Dallas Tea Party group has reintroduced rumors that Republican Rep. Pete Sessions doesn't actually live in his district. The White Rock Tea Party interviewed his "neighbors" in the apartment complex he listed as his permanent residence when he filed for re-election. Apparently no one has ever seen him. (Update: Sessions' camp has released a statement confirming that the Congressman does not live in the apartment featured below, but still lives in Dallas. Read the full statement below.)
The video was posted on Thursday, and follows reports from earlier this month that Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts doesn't actually live in Kansas. It was scooped up by the conservative Twitter aggregator on Friday, under the headline, "Does Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, no longer live in Texas?!?"
In the clip, one man says he didn't understand why a Congressman would even want to live in a 420 square foot efficiency apartment. "Supposedly there's a congressman who lives in there with his new wife, making six figures a year," he says. According to the same man, the apartment isn't outfitted for washers or dryers, meaning you'd have to go to the laundromat or hand wash and line dry. "I can't see a sitting congressman doing laundry the way we normal guys have to do it around here," he adds. "Being a congressman, I don't think he would ... live in these particular apartments," says another resident.
If the video is legit (the group's other YouTube videos include a video that juxtaposes the Kermit Gosnell trial with Wendy Davies' biography, plus this 11 minute presentation on the "Islamist" infiltration of the government under the Obama administration) it paints Sessions as an out of touch Establishment guy. Not only does he not live in his district, but there's a class distinction. They idea that someone as well off as Sessions would live in the building is a joke to the other residents. Sarah Palin reinforced that Wednesday when she supported Sessions' Tea Party opponent Katrina Pierson. On Facebook, Palin wrote:
Katrina is taking on a powerful incumbent who has so lost touch with the people of his district that he’s not even bothering to spend much time in Texas anymore. It’s not only his district he’s lost touch with, but also the issues important to the voters there. He used his powerful position to oppose the movement to defund Obamacare, has voted to raise the debt ceiling, and has been an advocate for the NSA intrusion into our freedoms.
But while not living in Texas is embarrassing, Pierson's real appeal to the Tea Party are her ties to Ted Cruz (she helped him get elected) and her dedication to repealing the Affordable Care Act. As The New York Times (through a partnership with the Texas Tribune) reported last month, "on the campaign trail, Ms. Pierson and her supporters have described Mr. Sessions as a creature of Washington out of touch with Texans" who "has not sufficiently supported efforts, led largely by Mr. Cruz, to repeal the Affordable Care Act."
She has also questioned whether Sessions lives in Texas, or in Florida with his new wife. The Tribune said Sessions had refuted those claims in an email. “My wife and I are working hard to make our combined families work well,” Sessions said. The White Rock Tea Party is hoping their video is a little more convincing.
Here's Sessions' full statement:
During my separation and subsequent divorce in 2010, I moved into the referenced apartment at 8547 Southwestern Blvd. My expenses were high and I was trying to live as frugally as possible. I chose an apartment that was close to my son and ex-wife.
In January, after enduring strangers accosting me in the parking lot and video taping me at that location, I decided to move. I now live in a townhome in Dallas.
I have been a resident of Dallas County since I moved to Dallas in the 1980’s. Throughout my time representing North Texas in Congress I have been a resident of the 32nd District, as I still am today.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.