Sen. Kyrsten Sinema Again Confronted on Video by Activists amid Key Role in Spending Bill Vote

The Monday incident comes on the heels of another confrontation earlier this month at Arizona State University, were Sinema is a lecturer

Kyrsten Sinema
Kyrsten Sinema. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty

For the second time in recent weeks, Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema was confronted by a protestor — this time while walking through the airport.

According to reports, the centrist Democrat whose vote is key to ongoing negotiations over a major spending bill, could be heard saying "don't touch me" as a woman who identified herself as a constituent confronted the lawmaker about climate change.

Footage of the exchange shared to Twitter on Monday by progressive activist Jordan Uhl shows Sinema, 44, chatting with Republican Sen. Tim Scott as they walk through the airport.

In the video, a woman approaches Sinema and begins walking alongside her, accusing the Democrat of meeting with lobbyists instead of constituents and asking, "What are you going to do about climate change?"

In the video, Sinema tells Scott: "Sorry about this."

"I think it's par for the course," Scott said, according to the outlet.

In a statement to PEOPLE, a Sinema spokesperson said "Kyrsten and our team regularly meet with individuals and groups from across Arizona on a consistent basis, including a recent roundtable on local infrastructure issues."

"As she has said publicly, Kyrsten will continue meeting with Arizonans with diverse views to inform her work in the Senate," the spokesperson said, pointing constituents with "comments, concerns, or requests for assistance" to Sinema's website and office.

The Monday incident comes on the heels of another confrontation earlier this month at Arizona State University, were Sinema is a lecturer.

After being followed through a building by activists with the group LUCHA Arizona urging her to sign a pending infrastructure spending bill on Oct. 3, Sinema told the group she was "heading out."

She then entered a restroom — but was followed by some of the protesters.

Footage of that incident show the protesters walking up to the bathroom stall as Sinema enters and shuts it behind her.

One day later, Sinema released a statement calling the events at ASU "unacceptable."

"Yesterday, several individuals disrupted my class at Arizona State University. After deceptively entering a locked, secure building, these individuals filmed and publicly posted videos of my students without their permission — including footage taken of both my students and I using a restroom," the statement read.

Her statement continued: "Yesterday's behavior was not legitimate protest. It is unacceptable for activist organizations to instruct their members to jeopardize themselves by engaging in unlawful activities such as gaining entry to closed university buildings, disrupting learning environments, and filming students in a restroom."

Sinema added then that the protesters were members of an activist group that "both my team and I have met with several times since I was elected to the Senate."

Sinema's unorthodox politics — described as either moderate or uncooperative, depending on the view — have made her a divisive figure among Democrats since she won her race in 2018.

She has voted against some major priorities for her party, such as a minimum wage increase. In recent weeks, she's been accused by some members of her own party of "standing in the way" of the passage of many of President Joe Biden's key agenda items, including a proposed $3.5 trillion spending package. Sinema has said for months that she would not support such a sum.

Over the summer, nearly 50 liberal activists were arrested protesting outside of Sinema's Arizona office in the wake of her vote against the $15 minimum wage and her refusal to eliminate the filibuster in order to pass new voting rights legislation this year even as advocates said such reforms were crucial.

"Kyrsten has always promised Arizonans she would be an independent voice for the state — not for either political party," a spokesman told The New York Times earlier this year. "She's delivered on that promise and has always been honest about where she stands."

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