An Open Letter to Senator Scott Brown

April 26, 2011By 50 Comments

(Note to readers: Please forward and share this as much as possible. I want it to get to his office somehow. And please comment below — D and R’s — so he knows you support my request. Thank you!)

An open letter to Senator Scott Brown (R-MA):

Dear Senator Brown:

I am sure you don’t remember me. I took a trip down to Washington, DC last May to meet with you in your office on Capitol Hill. I was with my friend – and fellow mom of a child with diabetes – Shannon Allen (you know; Ray’s wife?) and her adorable son, Walker. Our goal was to introduce ourselves to you and tell you a little bit about why we need your support in our mission toward a cure for Type 1 Diabetes.

This kind of trip is nothing new to me. While I’m really just a suburban PTO mom, I’ve actually had the opportunity to meet not only with all the Massachusetts delegation over the years, but also with many key legislative leaders. I’ve sat down and had good meetings with Senators Kennedy, Kerry, Hatch, Harkin, Brown (the other one; from Ohio), Clinton, Baucus, Lautenberg, Saunders, Brownback, Colburn, Obama (when he was a senator as well as now that he’s a president), Akaka, Snow, Collins . . . I could go on and on. But you get the idea. I’ve met with liberal and conservative leaders. Sometimes I’ve left knowing they will vote for all I wish them to vote for. Sometimes I leave thinking at least I got them to think a little. Sometimes I leave thinking: well, we’re never going to agree on that issue, but he/she is certainly a caring person who stands by his/her convictions. Never have I left feeling, well, feeling invisible and inconsequential.

That, unfortunately, was the case with you. Look, it’s no secret that my daughter was a very close friend with the Late Senator Kennedy (she was actually right next to you at the groundbreaking a few weeks ago. She was there as a personal guest of Vicky Kennedy). Here’s a link to explain their friendship:

So heading into his office without him there was going to be emotional for me. But I promise you: in no way did that skewer my hopes for our meeting. Because I watched your campaign closely. I listened to your messaging. You’re the guy with the brown coat and the truck. You’re the guy who wants to make this the “people’s seat.” You’re everyman, right? So while I was not completely confident I’d win you over to voting for and supporting diabetes research issues in Washington, I certainly expected to like you. Hey, there’s almost no one I’d rather go to a party with than Mike Huckabee and he and I have discovered we pretty much disagree on everything. So I had great hope for our meeting. (Besides, my needs go way beyond having a friend in the office. I’m there to help cure my child. Period. For that reason I’ll accept any kind of positive starting point with anyone. Really.)

It started off well. Your staffer was bright, attentive and interested in what Shannon and I had to say. She even brought us out to sit on your glorious balcony (it was a beautiful day). You had a busy schedule. I believe the President of Mexico was addressing a joint session that day. So, savvy as I am to Capitol Hill procedures, I quietly let Shannon (who was a newbie to these kind of meetings) know that we might not get to talk to you for more than, say, five minutes. Still, I was excited.

And then you arrived. “I hear you want a photo?” You said, and motioned for us to pose with you. We did, and then I – chosen by our team as the lead speaker for the meeting – brought up what we were there for. “Senator Brown, we’re here to talk to you about Type 1 Diabetes —“

Before I could get my entire thought out, you held your hand up in front of my face to stop me (I thought: did he learn that when his daughter’s were teenagers?) and said, “I already know all about diabetes. My grandmother had it.” I don’t believe you ever actually made eye contact with me. But then again, it was hard to see past your “truck drivin’ hard-working regular American guy” hand.

You turned on your heel and were gone. That was it.

Well, that wasn’t completely it. I assumed you had to rush off for the President of Mexico. Even though you were, at best, dismissive and really, when it comes down to it, rude; I wanted to give you a wide berth. He’s a new guy. I thought. He might be stressed for time. But then Shannon’s son wandered off into an area he should not be in. She went after him and there you were, still in the office. Not on the phone. Not in a meeting. Your hand in my face had not been out of nervousness and a rush. Not at all.

I left flabbergasted. Because, Senator Brown, if there’s one thing I’ve learned all these years of visiting the hill it’s this: Legislators are always looking for you to leave happy. I’ve been in meetings over stem cell (now that was one hot topic) with some of the most staunch opponents on earth. We didn’t even come close to agreeing. But they’d find something to share like this. “Look at the beautiful blue sky out there! Isn’t it lovely?” As silly as it sounds, even in their complete opposition to my request, they always helped me to leave feeling like a human being.

And you? From your ad campaign I frankly thought you’d be the friendliest guy on earth. I was expecting it to be so friendly it was almost annoying (I’m kind of snarky that way). Now, you might say: well, I don’t agree with what you stand for and at least I’m true to what I believe. But that’s impossible. You never gave us a chance to explain our passion and our needs. Frankly, Senator Brown, you didn’t give a darn.

Now, I somehow, over this past year (while watching your approval ratings soar) thought: well maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m just not an approachable person. Then I read, today, another account of a constituent meeting with you. It’s here:

http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2011/04/easthampton_woman_fights_diabe.html

The part that piqued my interest was this:

Sen. Scott Brown, R-MA, “didn’t give us the time of day or tell us if he supported anything,” but he showed up for a photo op, Douglass said.”

So, it’s not me. It might just be you.

I write this note because I honestly wonder if you even realize you come off that way. I know; it’s a big job and you’re on a huge learning curve.

So I’d like to make an offer: Let’s wipe the slate clean. Let’s sit down and talk. I can zip down to DC almost any time (my daughter with diabetes is in college there. If she’s not too overwhelmed with finals I can even ask her to come along).

I know you cannot give me an hour. A half hour can be a challenge for an elected official with all they have to do in a day.

But how about 15 minutes? Let’s start fresh. We’ll shake hands, sit down and I’ll tell you my mission and passion. Then you can respectfully choose to support it or not. And while I may not agree, I’ll understand.

Even if I leave just having seen how blue you thought the sky was that day, it will be an improvement.

I await your reply.

Sincerely,

Moira McCarthy Stanford

Plymouth, MA


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Comments (50)

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  1. Roshelle Parker says:

    Moira-

    Thank you once again for being an advocate and spokesperson for our children with Type 1. So many “elected” officials forget who actually placed them in their positions. Their “job” is to represent us, the American voters, and so many forget that simple fact once they take office. I am posting your open letter on my FB account. I have 593 friends, and the word will spread. I always tell Drake that individually we are a drop in the ocean but if we fight together we can make waves.

  2. Kerri. says:

    Oh, I hope he reads this, Moira. But I’ll do my best to make sure as many people as I can reach in the diabetes community read this. xo

  3. stacy says:

    powerful letter. I have type 1 for 26 years and fully support this cause

  4. Sara says:

    Wow! I guess he forgot that he is an elected official. It’s going to be hard to get votes next cycle if that reputation spread. I am pretty sure you and I are on different sides of the political spectrum but you don’t have to agree politically to deserve to be treated with respect.

  5. Why am I not suprised that Senator Brown grabs the photo op? The job is about getting things done, Sen. Brown, not looking good and being a sound bite. Please do some work of substance.

  6. Anna says:

    Senator Brown – I am not OK with this. Please make it right to Moira and all the other people with diabetes who stand with her – like me.

  7. k2 says:

    Moira –
    You are a much better woman than me – I would have bombarded his office ( and as many media outlets as possible) with phone calls regarding the Senator’s horrific behavior!
    Hopefully, Senator Brown will take advice, wipe his slate clean and start again.
    A 15 minute conversation really does make all the difference in the world!
    YOU ROCK
    Kelly K

  8. Fiona says:

    I read a quote in a book once that said “If you can’t be a good example, at least serve as a horrible warning.” Looks like Scott Brown is falling into the horrible warning category. “I know all about diabetes, my grandmother had it.” Seriously???

  9. Lauren says:

    As a politician, it is your job to listen. I am disgusted to learn you put your hand in a voters face and I believe that she is not the only one. You are very lucky that Moira is giving you another chance. I HIGHLY recommend if you ever want those affected by autoimmune disease to vote for you to reconsider your people skills and meet with her. You have lost my vote and many others. I dare you to try and change my mind.

    Lauren G, a Type 1 diabetic of 7 years.

  10. Kassie says:

    I’m absolutely flabbergasted at his behavior. I hope his staff reads this letter and reaches out to you!

  11. Katie says:

    Could he be any more of a jerk?

    My own Congressman has managed more than once to just let me speak to the sweet young thing at his local office reception desk. Even when I call to say I’m coming during one of his times in teh District. But he’s never done this.

    This more reminds me of the time when the Housing Resident at my son’s college informed me she didn’t need any information about diabetes since “we have diabetes stuff up the wazoo around here”. What an idiot that woman was. maybe she should run for office.

    the fact is, most elected officials know they should listen politely. And most do. Sometimes we can even make them think. that’s all I want. A hand in my face? NEVER.

  12. So very disappointed in the arrogance conveyed by Senator Scott Brown! The point of our visits to Congress aren’t to have a photo op…we are there to share our story and convey the NEED for a CURE!

  13. Bridget Zaeske says:

    This is just sad. Regardless of your political affiliation, people are people, no one should be treated as if they don’t matter. We NEED a cure for Type 1 Diabetes! My grandfather needed a cure, I need a cure and my sweet little Brianna NEEDS a cure!!! We need a cure, but to get it, we need SUPPORT for a cure!

  14. Donna Washburn says:

    Looks like he is “kissing upward and kicking downward” – pitiful excuse of a man.

  15. lc says:

    My grandmother had diabetes as well, but that doesn’t make me an expert on the matter. I would have listened to you. Moira, it is disgusting that you were treated in such a manner. He should be so lucky to have a second meeting with you to try to redeem himself.

  16. Kim says:

    So well said, Moira. And so sad that a letter like this even needs to be written.

    Step up to the plate, Senator Brown.

  17. Kassie says:

    I assume you already know this, Moira, but here’s his chief of staff’s fax #. Perhaps if a few of us print it off and fax it over…

    202.228.2646.

  18. Kassie says:

    and for all you twitterers…

    @ScottBrownMA

  19. Meagan Esler says:

    What totally unacceptable behavior on Senator Brown’s part!!! I wish we could all be so blissfully ignorant when it comes to type 1 diabetes. It certainly becomes unavoidable when it strikes someone close to you. For me, it became unavoidable when I was eighteen and diagnosed. Thank you Moira for going to bat for us, we obviously NEED you there as an advocate.

  20. Ellen says:

    Standing ovation and enthusiastic applause from this south Florida Mom! Brava!

  21. Katie Wentworth-Mahoney says:

    What a well written letter. What a jerk he is. I hope he reads this .

  22. paula fairchild says:

    Thank you for standing in the frontlines for those with diabetes.. for being such an advocate, and wonderful role model, speaker, writer, D-mom, and friend. Your open letter was very well written.. I am hopeful it will not only make it to him, but open the eyes of other legislators … so that no one else ever ever takes their constituents, or their passions, for granted again.

  23. Annette Buckley says:

    My 7 year old with type 1 diabetes needs people to CARE. I bet if he had a daughter with type 1 he would have a very different attitude! Try living our life for a day!
    How disappointing and rude!

  24. Paula Ford-Martin says:

    What. A. Jerk.

    Great letter. Hope he gets the point.

  25. Mary Beth Thompson says:

    That is horrible!! Maybe you should make a trip into the State Senator to the north of you in NH. Jeanne Shaheen’s 11 year old granddaughter has had Type 1 for 3 years so she knows the struggles we go through. Thank you for all your advocacy on the Type 1 communities behalf!

  26. moiracmcc says:

    Thank you Marybeth! I actually know Stefany and her daughter! Great people — they are filling a role I held in 2005. Chair Family of Children’s Congress!

  27. Lisa says:

    Speechless…

  28. I do not think elected officials understand what an impact one passionate parent can make. Multiply that by 3 million, because that is how many passionate type 1 parents and supporters we have in the United States (probably much more actually). Senators and Congressmen, you may not agree with us, you may not be in a position, or so you feel, to support us, but you had better listen to us. We at JDRF can be VERY loud!

  29. Elizabeth says:

    Moira, you are amazing. You speak for all of us as parents of kids with Type 1. And you speak way more eloquently (and definitely more calmly) than many of us could in this same situation.

  30. Bonnie says:

    I support Ms. McCarthy Stanford’s position and urge Mr. Brown to show a little respect to the people he serves.

  31. Brett says:

    Boom.

    - Brett (father of a girl with Type 1)…

  32. Zach Clayton says:

    Didn’t realize the hornet’s nest he kicked over, did he? Regardless of political views, his actions demonstrate the arrogance that often comes from D.C. Atta girl.

  33. Alysa says:

    Terrible that Senator Brown was so direspectful … and uninformed! I urge him to meet with you and make amends. So frustrating that the only thing he said to you was to compare your daughter’s situation to his grandmother. Maddening as a Type 1 to be compared to someone’s Type 2 relative (“and she was able to control it with diet … so let me know if you need some tips …”). My son, who is also Type 1, wants there to be a different name for Type 1 – so uninformed people will know there’s a difference. His latest “insulin-dependent hyperglycemia” …

  34. katie pohl says:

    WOW! Thankyou for sharing Moira! That is pretty bad! Thankyou for all you do!Katie

  35. Type 1 Celiac says:

    This is a hard lesson in reality. People today do not care about “diabetes”. It’s a non issue unless you have it. From my lifetime of experience having it (since I was a baby) combined with my advocacy work, this is my conclusion. People could care less. There is little sympathy. Perhaps back in the 1940s when 90% of the cases were what we now call “Type 1″ and occured in children who rarely lived past their 30th birthday, blind, with heart disease, and frequently in a seizure or coma. Now, 90-95% of cases are Type 2, which is largely preventable, easily managed with effort, and usually generates little to no support. Hence the dismissive “grandmother” comment. Diabetes in general is the disease of the ugly redheaded stepchild. It will never get sympathy or understanding like cancer or ALS. When a person with MS injects their medication, they are brave. When a T1 diabetic injects, they are, for reasons I have yet to understand, marginialized or disliked. My personal advice is to join autoimmune disease research advocacy groups instead, if you still want to advocate for a cure. The second you mention diabetes, you have lost them, unless you are looking for funding to promote healthy living, weight loss programs, etc (as Type 2 is a real problem in developed countries). If you are looking for sympathy and a cure, you will not find it there. I apologize if this sounds harsh, but it is reality.

    • Scott Powell says:

      Wow, two thoughts come to mind. First is, I can’t believe the senator was such an idiot. Second, I doubted anything on this thread could have been more offending than his behaviour, until I read:

      “Diabetes in general is the disease of the ugly redheaded stepchild. It will never get sympathy or understanding like cancer or ALS.”

      I’ve been diabetic (type 1) for going on 30 years, and my mother passed away 3 years ago from ALS. I hate to say it…but if it comes down to spending money on ALS research or on diabetes, spend it on ALS. If you’re type 1 – take your insulin and test your blood. If you’re type II, lose some weight, don’t eat sweets, and get some exercise. But don’t EVER compare having diabetes with being in the same ballpark as the poor souls who are cursed with ALS.

      Scott

  36. krisfitz says:

    That’s a great letter – I hope this gets back to him and bites him. I was in DC for JDRF’s advocacy weekend as well (from Seattle, WA), and I did hear one other story like this about a WA rep who’d behaved similarly when she was a staffer. Stunning. Hope to meet you in person at some point, and very glad you’ve started the blog!

  37. John B says:

    This is indeed very very sad. But the Lord works in strange and mysterious ways !!!

  38. Susan Bkford says:

    On behalf of my 13 year old son who was recently diagnosed with Type 1, thank you for not letting Scott Brown take you down. Thank you for taking the fight public. Thank you for being heard. And thank you for going back to set him straight and being an advocate for these kids, it is obvious that we need you. I am going to post this letter and the update on my FB. I am just a small fish but I will stand up too. Thank you…

  39. Gerry Moylan says:

    You go, Moira! Great piece. And you, Senator Brown, have a very important meeting to attend – with Ms. McCarthy! Go Purple House!!!

  40. Alysa says:

    I commented on Senator Brown’s facebook wall in support of his rescheduling the meeting. In order to comment though, it seemed like I had to “Like” him on Facebook. Not sure if I like him or not – right now I suspect not – but I’ll withold judgment until after I hear about the May 16 meeting … Funny though – he probably got lots of people “liking” him on Facebook just because they wanted to be able to tell him how rude he was to Moira and how much they DID NOT “like” that …

  41. Wanda F Fiveash says:

    As a mother of a DIABETIC child, its no wonder that some people are closed minded to this disease.I guess they think “if our Senators and people in power dont care, why should we?” This is why you should care…DIABETES doesnt discriminate: it doesnt care if you are white or black, short or tall, rich or poor, overweight or thin…DIABETES never sleeps…We (I say we because I live everyday for my son) NEED a CURE….NOW. So Senator Brown, I dont guess you know “ALL ABOUT” diabetes…it happened to my child, what if it happens to your child, grandchild, niece or nephew? Then you will be one of us fighting for that childs life EVERYDAY.

  42. donna says:

    I once diagnosed a neighbor’s child with type one diabetes, after two doctors had told her that her daughter didn’t have it, and she was a nurse. I told her find another doctor who would get it right.

    If doctors and nurses often don’t even recognize it or know how to treat it properly, there needs to be far greater awareness. Thank you for all you do.

  43. Dan says:

    I had a very similar experience with Senator Scott Brown when I introduced myself to
    him on Boylston Street during the Greek Parade in Boston. I politely introduce myself
    and then decided to ask him a question about the FAA Bill that was be debated in Washington and he rudely and abruptly told me to educate myself on the bill and it’s status. I found him to be a complete FAKE, very RUDE, and ARROGANT!! I lost all
    respect for him in less than a five minute meeting. My hat goes off to you for bringing
    your VERY IMPORTANT cause to the attention of others. Scott Brown comes across as being in touch with his constituents, however, I realized in five minutes he is just
    concerned about his personal agenda. I wish you the best with your meeting..

  44. Julie says:

    I have had type 1 Diabetes for 24 years (dx 10) . I find this behavior by Scott Brown repulsive! How embarrassing to have such an arrogant and ignorant Senator or one that doesn’t want to educate himself. He probably doesn’t even know that Joslin Diabetes Center right in MA is the best in the World!!!! Good for you for giving us a voice!

  45. Andy says:

    I met Senator Brown at the Foxboro YMCA. We had a nice conversation about family. I thought he was very nice. I imagine he fields hundreds of solicitations for help every day. You can’t please everyone…

  46. kassie says:

    I posted on his wall and he wrote back… is it true you have a meeting? Yay!

  47. Pamela Alagel says:

    Great letter. I hope you get that meeting. We all have to keep advocating, walking, biking, letter writing, etc for a cure! No one really understands the demands of Type 1 diabetes unless you are living it, so it is our job to inform those who can help make a difference.
    Mom of Type 1 amazing son

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