Hundreds of demonstrators gathered today outside local field offices of Oregon's U.S. senators in downtown Medford, demanding they reject all of President Trump's Cabinet picks.
About 250 people with a recently formed group called Indivisible gathered in front of the offices of Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley at midday to voice their concerns about Trump's agenda, with a focus on his Cabinet.
"It's almost like they're hand-picked to do harm," said demonstrator Shirley Roberts of Medford.
Roberts said she participated at a rally with Indivisible last week, when the group assembled near U.S. Rep. Greg Walden's Medford field office asking him to preserve the Affordable Care Act. She also participated Saturday in the Women's March in Ashland.
"There's no shortage of things to march for," Roberts said.
Trump's 20 Cabinet picks include Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil, for secretary of state; Ryan Zinke, U.S. representative from Montana, for secretary of Interior; James Mattis, former commander of U.S. Central Command, for secretary of Defense; Steven Mnuchin, Trump campaign finance chairman and former Goldman Sachs partner, secretary of Treasury; Betsy DeVos, billionaire and charter school advocate, secretary of Education; and Andrew Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, secretary of Labor, among 14 others.
Walden, R-Hood River, has said he knows several of Trump's picks — including Zinke, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Tom Price, Trump's choice for secretary of Health and Human Services, and Mike Pompeo, CIA director — and approves of them.
"These are quality people and there are others that I don’t know well but the confirmation hearings will provide more information about what they’ve done and said,” Walden told The Dalles Chronicle earlier this month.
Three of Trump's picks have been confirmed by the Senate so far: Mattis, Pompeo and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.
Demonstrator Judy Dolmatch of Ashland said she was "appalled" at Trump's Cabinet nominees, adding that she wanted to "support the principles of democracy" by publicly speaking out.
The local organization has been active about 2-1/2 weeks and claims to have about 1,000 members, according to lead organizer Jessica Sage of Ashland, and last week's Affordable Care Act march was the organization's first effort. Sage said the event wasn't a "demonstration," but part of what she hopes will be a weekly series known as "Resist-Trump Tuesday."
"Our mission is to resist the Trump agenda," Sage said.
Indivisible is one of a loosely affiliated set of groups sprouting across the country seeking to resist Trump, drawing guidance from IndivisibleGuide.com, a political action guide reportedly developed by former congressional staffers that contains methods for getting Congress to listen. The Indivisible Guide website includes tools for visitors to connect with nearby groups, as well as instructions on how to develop their own group.
Merkley field representative Amy Amrhein thanked the group for letting the field office know the demonstrators were coming, and she read a statement from Merkley to the crowd, which filled the nearby Banner Bank parking lot.
In the statement, Merkley said opposing Cabinet members who will hurt working families is at the "very top of my list."
"President Trump's Cabinet members go directly against his stated campaign promise of 'draining the swamp' and fighting for working America," Amrhein read in part.
The statement listed concerns about a "treasury secretary who's made his fortune foreclosing on working families," an "education secretary who seeks to strip resources from the public schools" and a "labor secretary who spent his career innovating new ways to grind workers into the ground."
The local group doesn't have a website, according to Sage, but has set up a Facebook group called "Oregon District 2 Indivisible."
Trump has defended his picks on many occasions, including during a "thank you" rally in Iowa in December.
"In filling my Cabinet, I’m looking for people who fully understand the meaning of service and who are committed to advancing the common good,” Trump said.
— Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.