But, Eidinger said, the congressman’s staff — Chaffetz is in Utah and was not at the meeting — didn’t give them any reason to hope for that.
“They listened to us; they’re very good listeners,” Eidinger said. “I said, ‘Give me a hope that you’ve had a change of heart about riders’ … I just don’t think he’s going to do it. The meeting was discouraging in that sense.”
That outcome isn’t all that surprising. Chaffetz sent a letter earlier this year to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) on the eve that marijuana became legal in the District, warning her that going through with legalization was in violation of federal law. In the past, Chaffetz has opposed congressional efforts to give the District more autonomy.
“The chairman does not support the manner in which this city proceeded with legalizing marijuana, and there will remain conflicting views on that,” said Melissa Subbotin, a spokeswoman for the Republican House Oversight Committee.
Subbotin said that Eidinger and others met with staffers on the Government Operations Subcommittee. “The committee routinely meets with advocacy groups that have matters within the committee’s jurisdiction,” she said.
Eidinger said the staffers asked him to formally write what advocates want from the congressman and his committee and that the office was open to a possible meeting with Chaffetz himself.
But, if there’s no headway made in fulfilling the activists’ requests, Eidinger said that come April 15 — tax day — he would start organizing widespread protests that would include sit-ins throughout the city.
“Get ready for a Hong Kong-style sit-in in the nation’s capital,” said Eidinger. “I think April 15 is inevitably going to be a protest … If we don’t start doing stuff like that, we’re never going to be respected.”
Eidinger said that he and the six activists in attendance talked little about the specifics of the marijuana law. The meeting, he said, wasn’t just about marijuana, but rather Congress meddling in D.C. affairs. Most recently, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) introduced measures that could interfere with D.C. law. Rubio co-introduced a measure that would overturn the city’s gun laws, and Cruz introduced disapproving resolutions of two local laws that banned private groups from discriminating for religious reasons.