U.S. Rep. Billy Long of Springfield put his auctioneering skill to use Wednesday to drown out a protester during a committee hearing about free speech.
A woman, activist Laura Loomer, interrupted from the back row in the audience as the House Energy and Commerce Committee was hearing testimony from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
Chairman Greg Walden, a Republican from Oregon, instructed the protester to be quiet or be ejected, but she ignored him and kept talking while videoing with a smartphone.
That’s when Long, an auctioneer and a Republican representing the 7th District, began his spiel from his mic, overpowering the protester’s message and drawing smiles from the audience.
“One of the most creative ways to deal with a protester that I’ve seen,” Missouri GOP spokesman Chris Nuelle told The Star by email Thursday, “and we’re glad to have him on our team.”
Just another part of a news cycle Wednesday that included a testy exchange between Rep. Marco Rubio and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, among other things.
The incident did not pass without some backlash on social media. MackMajor tweeted it was “not cool” for Long, a conservative Republican, to drown out a fellow conservative voice. (The protester was arguing that Dorsey’s Twitter is censoring conservative messages in order to sway the November elections.)
Another person noted dryly that this incident occurred during a hearing that was basically about free speech.
As for Loomer herself, she was not amused. She tweeted: “In a hearing about censorship, you literally auctioned off the First Amendment and sold your Republican base down the river. You silenced a Conservative journalist.”
As Loomer was ushered out of the hearing room, Long drew laughter by simply saying, “I yield back.”
Walden capped the moment.
“Somehow I think our auctioneer-in-residence is going to get tweeted about today.”