August 13th, 2009
07:12 PM ET
11 years ago

Democrat defends cell phone use during town hall

 Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, was caught on camera talking on a cell phone during a town hall meeting on Tuesday.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, was caught on camera talking on a cell phone during a town hall meeting on Tuesday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A Democratic congresswoman being criticized for chatting on her cell phone during a health care town hall meeting defended her actions Thursday and suggested that the video of the event may have been doctored.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, told CNN she had dialed into a Congressional hotline to get more details about a question that was being asked by a constituent at the town hall in Houston on Tuesday. House Democratic aides have set up a health care war room located in Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's, D-Maryland, office that is designed to help lawmakers answer questions about the legislation.

"It appears on the video - maybe it's a doctored video - but how I explain it is this: First of all, I take calls from my constituents, but that was not a call that I took," Jackson-Lee said. "I dialed the hotline number to get a better answer."

"It was not disrespectful because I was seeking information for the very town hall I was in," she said. "No offense was intended."

But Jackson Lee would not elaborate when pressed on whether she believes the YouTube video of her talking on the cell phone had been manipulated.

"I know nothing about the video and I'm not going to comment on it," she said. "All I'm going to say to you is, 'I enjoyed speaking to that young mother.'"

Jackson Lee said she stayed after the event to talk more with the woman who was asking her a question while she was on the phone. The congresswoman said she "bonded" with the questioner after the meeting.

"The lady did not ask for an apology," she said. "We became good friends."

Filed under: Health care • Sheila Jackson Lee
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. WhoCares?

    This is exactly why modern journalism is in the toilet.

    It starts with "She is being criticized" but once again fails to tell who is doing it. Most likely some staffer at CNN.

    The media just makes new stories nowadays....since they have the journalistic morality of Al-Jazeeeri.

    August 13, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  2. Moderate Democrat

    Be careful Senator...Republicans are against progress. They won't like you using a cell phone, they haven't caught up to the rest of us living in the 21st century.

    August 13, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  3. Dan

    The video is interesting: she shows no interest in the question. These are our representatives these days: get a job and do not do not "for" the people, but do "to" the people. Not organizing "with" America, but "Organizing America"...... They all get their job wrongly!

    August 13, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  4. bush Victim

    Where were the Town Halls when the republicans were in reign?

    August 13, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  5. makesUwonder

    I live in Houston and Sheila Jackson Lee is an embarrassment. I've called her office and let me tell you if the person taking your call doesn't like what you have to say they are very rude, just like Sheila Jackson Lee.

    If anyone believes that Her Royal Highness was seeking information while on her phone, well, I have some real dry land to sell you located in the middle of a swamp.

    August 13, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  6. Enlightened Voter

    You couldn't even have town halls when the republicans were in office because we were victims of a dictatorship. Atleast the Democrats and President Obama are allowing us to have our say. Remember the protester zones bush had about a mile from where he would speak and I don't ever remember him holding a townhall.

    August 13, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  7. joe

    I saw it and was disgusted now I have a clear picture what it was.....
    Thank you

    August 13, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  8. mike

    I live in houston and Sheila lee Jackson is a decent human being who would not do anything of sought. I saw it and I knew she must be talking or inquiring something about healthcare. Seems some people can not stop and find out the truth about something before they jump all over it.....How sad!

    August 13, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  9. Joseph, Los Angeles California

    Wow, you can't do anything these days without it be manipulated to satisfy a negative agenda. Press on Congresswoman; you did nothing wrong.

    August 13, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  10. Brian Shelley

    Isn't it amazing how the party that complains about everything is the one that is the most arrogant? I don't believe for a second that Representative Lee was trying to find out more information. She was trying to avoid having to answer tough questions. Maybe if she and the other members of her party had actually read the whole bill she might sound more sincere.

    August 13, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  11. DEB

    I support the reform but must admit she like most politicians, only hear what they want to hear! She was rude and so was Rick Sanchez when he interviewed her today!

    August 13, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  12. Mississippi Mike

    I saw the video. A lady was asking a question and Sheila Lee picks up the phone to take the call, while the questioner was still talking! The video was not doctored at all, why would she suggest that when she hadn't even seen it? Also, I saw the questioner on the news this morning and she was not under the impression that she and Lee were BFF's now. She is still offended by Lee's actions and has lost respect for her political representative. Lee is a jerk, plain and simple.

    August 13, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  13. donttreadonme

    Maybe Mrs. Jackson should set up a teleprompter for talking points like Obama does.

    Funny all of these people fighting to ram this bill through Congress know so little about it!!!!

    August 13, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  14. DEB

    TO ALL THE RATpublicans and DUMBOcrats... one day you will seek re-election, REMEMBER THAT!

    August 13, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  15. mark

    What an idiot.

    August 13, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  16. reggie

    She's a real piece of work. Hard to believe she could ever be elected.

    August 13, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  17. JLS

    However Miss Jackson according to the woman, never did answer her question. It sure looked like she was blowing this lady off.

    August 13, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  18. Eric

    This woman is a disguisting elitist pig and a LIAR on top of it. She personifies what is wrong with the "elected" representatives of this country and will be a major factor in the downfall of our once great country.

    August 13, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  19. Meeks

    Sheila Jackson Lee is a disgrace to our State and has been ever since she was elected. She is always race baiting or highjacking Youtube with her fanatical views and outright lies.

    August 13, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  20. Danny, WA

    This lady is a cheat. Houston does nto deserve her to be their congressman. Wake up Houston and America. You have to dump her and also Barack's clan, czars and all.

    August 13, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  21. jon

    It's a phone call for Pete's sake. Why is this such a big deal?

    August 13, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  22. Moderate Democrat

    I'll admit it. What Jackson did was VERY rude. No two ways about it.

    Health Care Reform is a MUST. But Ms. Jackson is not who I want to be sending to meetings.

    August 13, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  23. bozo the obama

    another reason that Barbara keeps winning the most stupid congessperson every year. The only people more stupid are the ones that vote for her...(plus she is a racist)

    August 13, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  24. Claudia in Houson

    Explaining away the truth always creates another untruth. Why didn't she just apologize and let it go away.

    August 13, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  25. I'm not going to comment on it

    Sounds like Reagan: I don't recall

    August 13, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
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