SUN CITY CENTER, Fla. — A group of Sun City Center residents showed up Tuesday morning to protest an appearance by U.S. Attorney General William Barr to announce Trump administration measures aimed at protecting vulnerable seniors from fraud and physical abuse at certain nursing facilities.
- Several hundred attended "Keeping Seniors Safe" summit
- White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway, Florida AG Ashley Moody also in attendance
- More Hillsborough County stories
The appearance in Sun City Center took place on the biggest political day of the year, Super Tuesday, and two weeks before Floridians will participate in their presidential primary. And yes, there was some politics involved in what ostensibly was an event to highlight the White House’s focus on protecting seniors – one of the most reliable voting blocs for the GOP in Florida.
Speaking to several hundred senior citizens at the event, Barr recounted efforts that the Trump administration has enacted in elder and exploitation cases, and announced that the most recent “Elder Fraud Sweep” involved over 400 defendants and more than $1 billion in losses.
Barr also announced that the Dept. of Justice is launching a National Nursing Home Initiative to pursue nursing homes that provide “grossly-substandard care to their residents,” and unveiled an elder fraud hotline (1-833-FRAUD-11).
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody followed Barr on stage to talk about her office's work on protecting seniors against fraud. She said over the past year, her office's "senior protection team" had recovered more than $287,000 for Florida seniors.
Conway challenged on Medicare claim
Speaking about President Trump, Joe Grogan, the director of the White House’s Domestic Policy Council, said, “I can tell you that he is always fixing the problems that other administrations have ignored and standing up for people that can’t fight for themselves.”
Later, after White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway said that the president has vowed that he “won’t touch Medicare and Medicaid,” a woman in the audience, Pamela Pride, stood up and challenged the comment. A security guard soon confronted her but did not eject her from the premises.
Pride told Spectrum Bay News 9 afterward that she spoke out “because that is a misrepresentation of what is actually the truth.”
According to FactCheck.org, the president’s proposed budget “does propose reductions in future projected Medicare spending, but experts say they are similar to last year’s budget proposal, which included bipartisan ideas also supported by former President Barack Obama. “
In January, the president told CNBC that he would “take a look” at reducing spending on Medicare in future budgets.
Protester: DOJ "being controlled by our president
There were more than a dozen local Sun City Center residents who gathered before 8 a.m. to protest Barr’s appearance.
“I was just outraged because the entire presentation was a paid political announcement for the administration,” said Debbie Anderson. “If Bill Barr cared about the people in this country, he wouldn’t have sat on the Mueller Report for as long as he did, and then give it a 'Mueller Report for dummies report' that absolutely made no sense and wasn’t true.”
That comment was in reference to Barr's controversial decision to write a summary of the report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into allegations of Russia's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
Fran Bodman, president of the Southshore Democrats, said she was protesting Barr because “no one is above the law.”
“I feel that the Justice Department now is being controlled by our president, due to the fact that our president has made remarks about a judge and a foreman on a jury, and the attorney general has said nothing, and it really is disconcerting,” she said, referencing tweets by the president attacking the judge and jury foreman in the trial of Trump ally Roger Stone.