This Reporter Looked Into Claims Of “Paid Protesters.” Here’s What He Found.


Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford) represents New York's 22nd Congressional District, which includes Binghamton and Utica.

Several Republican members of Congress from around the country have lamented over “paid protesters” at town halls over the last month. Binghamton area Congresswoman Claudia Tenney cited “paid protestors” as a reason not to hold a town hall meeting.

John Roby is an investigative reporter with the Press and Sun Bulletin. He and his colleagues set out to find examples of paid protestors across the state. He joined WSKG’s Gabe Altieri to talk about it.

Interview Highlights:

On whether there was evidence of paid protesters:

John Roby: The more you look into claims of these paid protesters shouting down Congress members at town halls or attending these marches, the more you see there’s not any truth to them anywhere in the country.

On why some respondents didn’t consider themselves protesters:

JR: The distinction that many of them drew was, “no, we’re not out there in the streets, we’re simply trying to meet with our elected representatives and tell them what we think they ought to do or questions they  ought to raise on some of these national issues.”

On whether members of Congress are trying to de-legitimize protests​:

JR: It’s certainly a concern of some of the people who are being accused of this, and the risk that you run is that the debate about whether people are paid or not is overshadowing the debate over the actual issues.