A Salt Lake City resident is accusing Sen. Orrin Hatch's staff of calling the police after she requested to meet with the Utah Republican, a version of events his office strongly disputed on Wednesday.
Elise Lazar told the Salt Lake City Tribune that she called Hatch's Salt Lake City office last week to ask if the senator would hold a town hall meeting during Congress's Easter recess. The Tribune detailed Lazar's exchange with Hatch's receptionist, in which Lazar was allegedly pressed on why she wanted information about Hatch's schedule:
The staffer pushed her on what issues she wanted to discuss, but Lazar was reluctant to tell her because she thought that would diminish her chances of seeing Hatch.
Lazar wanted to express her opposition to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which Democrats generally oppose and Republicans generally favor. She wanted to wait until she actually could meet Hatch so she wouldn’t be blown off prematurely.
Finally, the staffer told Lazar the senator would be coming to town but had scheduled no town hall meetings and would be too busy to meet with her.
Lazar said she then received a phone call from Capitol Hill police the next day, in which an officer told her Hatch's office had issued a complaint identifying her as a suspicious person.
Hatch spokeswoman Heather Barney denied Lazar's version of the story and called it an "isolated incident."
"This does not happen very often at all, but we have to take any sort of protocol when it comes to security seriously," Barney told HuffPost.
Barney said Lazar never made it clear that she wanted to meet Hatch, asking only questions about the senator's whereabouts and refusing to say exactly what she wanted.
"She didn't ask about town hall meetings. One of our staff members just passed her name along [to the Capitol police] in case there were any red flags," Barney said, adding that at no point did the staffer specifically ask the police to call Lazar.
Barney maintained the office's response was in accordance with how it would handle any constituent who raised red flags.
Lazar, on the other hand, implied to the Tribune that since the incident, her phone has made a "strange clicking sound," and at times she heard "a strange man's voice on the line."