Katie Porter town hall sees punches thrown after far-right opponent brings supporters to ‘confront’ her

Progressive congresswoman has made a national name for herself challenging executives of major corporations at congressional hearings

Andrew Naughtie
Tuesday 13 July 2021 08:29
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Fight breaks out after protesters disrupt congresswoman’s town hall

Progressive US Rep Katie Porter held a town hall in her California district over the weekend – and saw the event marred by a fight between her supporters and those of a far-right challenger who attended the event to “confront” her.

The event, held outdoors on Sunday in the city of Irvine, saw rival groups trying to drown each other out. When the right-wing protesters continued chanting “carpetbagger Katie!” (alluding to her Iowa roots) and “corrupt Katie Porter”, they were challenged by the congresswoman’s supporters, and punches were soon being thrown.

According to reports from the scene, Ms Porter herself rushed over to the row and tried to shield an elderly attendee. The police got involved to break up the scuffle.

The man whose supporters were involved in the fight is Nick Taurus, a supporter of far-right figures and causes who is ostensibly running for Ms Porter’s seat as an “America First candidate”. In anticipation of Ms Porter’s event, he took to Instagram to encourage supporters to “confront Katie Porter!”

In a video uploaded to Instagram after the event, Mr Taurus complains about having to submit a question on paper for random selection by Ms Porter, and ranted about how “carpetbagger Katie” accepts donations from corporations including Disney, “Bay Area academics” and billionaires – and described her as “bolstered by hordes of immigrant voters”.

“What happened,” he says in the video, “was that we started heckling and hassling her, and the reason why that was happening was that no recourse was given to us.” Claiming that “everything that happened today was instigated by the left,” he describes challenging her on “vaccine deaths” and on whether she really loves her own children: “There was an interesting line where she mentioned that sometimes, her 13- and 9-year-olds get a little difficult. Well what’s her plan? Is she going to abort them?”

He also complained about how other conservative activists were not attending other left-wing events. “Guys, we have to go out and we have to make our voice heard. We have to actually do something to these leftists and let them know that we’re not going to sit by and let them loot and steal and pillage our country. And that’s what Katie Porter plans on doing.”

According to the Federal Elections Commission, Mr Taurus formally filed as a candidate last month. Among the policies listed on his campaign website are a 25-year immigration moratorium, a ban on critical race theory (or “anti-white racism”) and “LGBT ideology” in schools, legislation “proposing an end to foreign aid to ALL NATIONS!” and “the release and pardon of all 1/6 patriots”.

Mr Taurus’s campaign has been contacted for comment.

In a statement, Ms Porter explained how questions were chosen for the event and conveyed her disappointment at the disturbance.

“At our town halls, we take steps, such as putting all questions into a bingo ball spinner, so that we hear all voices, not just the loudest ones,” she wrote. “It is disappointing that a small but vocal group of attendees, who advertised a ‘confrontation rally’, created unsafe conditions at a planned family-friendly event. While I absolutely respect their right to disagree, their disturbance disrespected all the families who attended and were ready to engage in a thoughtful, civil, and safe way.

“My team and I are evaluating next steps, but my promise to Orange County families is that I will continue to hold town halls and to be in conversation with them.”

Outside the so-called “squad” of young left-leaning progressive congresswomen, among them New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar, Ms Porter is one of the most popular and nationally visible progressives in the House of Representatives. First elected in 2018 after flipping the longtime Republican seat, she has become famous for her skilled and merciless questioning of witnesses at congressional hearings.

Among her top targets was JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, who appeared in front of the Financial Services Committee in April 2019. Ms Porter humiliated Mr Dimon with questions about his employees’ salaries, using arithmetic to demonstrate how one worker is running a deficit of more than $500 a month – and leaving him unable to explain what the woman should do.

“I’d love to call up and have a conversation about her financial affairs and see if we could be helpful,” Mr Dimon told her.

Ms Porter was not satisfied. “Well, I appreciate your desire to be helpful, but what I’d like you to do is provide a way for families to make ends meet.”

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