The Victorville Town Hall: We Didn’t Miss Paul Cook That Much, After All

It was no surprise that Congressman Paul Cook did not show up for the Town Hall he was invited to in Victorville on Saturday, but over 100 spirited constituents did.  A panel of five experts addressed issues of concern then took questions from the audience – as did a cardboard cut-out of Rep. Cook, who responded only, we’re sorry to say, with No Comment.  😉

The event was hosted by Indivisible Victor Valley and supported and attended by Indivisible groups from throughout Congressional District 8.  Here Joe Murphy of Indivisible Victor Valley gives a shout-out to some of the groups, including Indivisible Morongo Basin:

The jumbo “Where Is Paul Cook?” milk carton created by members of Indivisible Morongo Basin for the April 15 Tax Rally in Yucca Valley made the trip up to Victorville and struck a handsome pose outside the hall.  Everyone wanted their picture taken with it – here including organizers from Indivisible groups in Victor Valley, San Bernardino Mountains, and Yucaipa:

The Victorville Daily Press covered the event.

Indivisible Morongo Basin is so grateful to Indivisible Victor Valley and especially organizers Jason Graham and Joe Murphy for taking this on and hosting the event and doing a terrific job; as well as to all the District 8 Indivisible groups for their contributions.  Our own volunteer crew from IMB came a long way across the desert to do set-up and clean-up and staff the sign-in table – thank you Beth, Jaycene, MaryLou, Phyllis, Richard, Rick, and Yolanda. Thanks to our Relentless Callers team for showing up to sign up new members.  And a very special thank you to Yolanda and Greg for hauling our milk carton on to its next set of adventures – now with Indivisible Victor Valley!

Congressman Cook, stand up for your country and make Trump’s tax returns public!

Is Trump colluding with Russia or enriching himself off the presidency? There’s one easy way to find out.  Every president since Carter has released their tax returns for a simple reason: it demonstrates that they don’t have conflicts of interests. But Trump has refused to release his tax returns. This would be unacceptable for any president, and it’s particularly shocking given the global reach of Trump’s businesses, including those tied to Russia.

Until we see Trump’s tax returns, we cannot be certain that foreign governments don’t have leverage over Trump that can be used to influence American policy. And we can’t be certain that he’s acting in the best interests of Americans. The integrity of American democracy is at stake here, and Congress needs to defend it.

Congress has power to get his returns…but they’re sitting on their hands. Trump isn’t a king—he can’t simply mandate that his tax returns remain hidden. Congress has the power to get his tax returns. But they’re refusing to use this power, largely because Republicans in the House and Senate are blocking efforts to do so.

This is simply unacceptable. Members of Congress are standing up for Trump instead of standing up for their country and their constituents. Given the importance to our democracy and to national security, Congress should step in and make Trump’s returns public. This is why our founders established our system of checks and balances in the first place—to ensure that no single branch of government gets away with abuses of power.


This simple bill would require President Trump and future major party presidential nominees to release the three most recent years of their tax returns, with only minor redactions for privacy. If they refuse, the Treasury would provide the returns to the Office of Government Ethics or Federal Election Commission.

This is a bipartisan bill in the House, with support on both sides of the aisle.

We demand that Congressman Paul Cook take a stand and protect our democracy by co-sponsoring the Presidential Tax Transparency Act, or H.R. 305.  

— Adapted from

Question: When is a town hall not a town hall?

The following Soapbox by Eric Hamburg of Wonder Valley appeared in the April 5 Hi-Desert Star.  You may listen to Rep. Cook’s “tele-townhall” here – or maybe a better use of your time would be to join fellow Indivisibles from throughout the 8th Congressional District at the “CA-08 Town Hall for Congressman Paul Cook” on April 22 in Victorville!

Cook’s telephone ‘town hall’ leaves questions unanswered

Rep. Cook held a telephonic “town hall,” with very short (one day) notice, on March 29. While the congressman was well intentioned and genial during this call, this format did not fit the congressman’s expressed “need” of hearing from his constituents to inform his actions. Questions to him were screened and, intentionally or not, most of the ones that he heard during the call were complimentary of him and/or supportive of his positions; when not, the answers he gave were imprecise, rarely on-point and provided little substance.

During this call the representative heard virtually no dissenting views on many grave and critical issues that confront his constituents, the country and the world, among them questions as to 1) his 100 percent pro-Trump voting record, 2) his position on Trump administration corruption and conflicts of interest, 3) concerns as to Trump campaign/administration involvement, and Trump’s own potential involvement in Russian manipulation of the 2016 election, 4) his position on gutting environmental regulations, defunding of climate science and climate change denial, 5) defunding of essential women’s health care, and 6) his vote allowing ISPs to sell private Internet information, to name a just a few.

It was particularly disturbing that Mr. Cook, when asked, expressed no objections as to Rep. Nunes’ highly inappropriate and damaging actions in the House Intelligence Committee. Rep. Cook should tell Speaker Ryan to have Rep. Nunes recuse himself from the investigation.

During the American Health Care Act debate, Rep. Cook never took a public stand. Calls to his offices resulted in non-committal responses. Perhaps he would have voted against the AHCA if it ever came to a vote but we can’t know that, and we frankly have the right to know where he stood on the substance of the bill.

Positively, Rep. Cook did voice an objection to proposed cuts in funding for the National Institute of Health and Centers for Disease Control, but when the budget comes under consideration will he use his vote to assure that such cuts don’t happen or will he go along with such cuts intact when the budget comes up for a vote as he has with the rest of the Trump agenda?

It appears from calls to his field office that no other meetings with concerned constituents are “on his calendar” during the April recess, just as one did not happen during the previous recess. If Rep. Cook’s intent is to have this teleconference stand in lieu of face-to-face meetings with his constituents, then this call was an inadequate substitute for that. The congressman has an opportunity to participate in such an exchange at the Victorville town hall he has been invited to on April 22. Will he take this opportunity to hear something other than what was frankly a much too limited dialog allowed during the teleconference?

I, of course, don’t expect Rep. Cook to agree with all of my views but as the representative of over 700,000 people, we expect him to hear and respond to the full range of concerns from the thousands of people in this district who are deeply troubled by the profound damage that is being done to our democracy and factor this into his actions and votes. Large numbers of people in this district did not vote for Rep. Cook’s re-election and now national polling shows that large majorities disapprove of Trump (the popular vote loser) and his actions. He stated numerous times during the teleconference that he wants to hear such views but this teleconference was not such a vehicle. I hope for better from him.