WASHINGTON - Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, of Arizona, says it was unacceptable activists filmed her and students at Arizona State University on Sunday using the restroom and it was "wholly inappropriate."
“In the 19 years I have been teaching at ASU, I have been committed to creating a safe and intellectually challenging environment for my students," said Sinema, in a statement on Monday. "Yesterday, that environment was breached. My students were unfairly and unlawfully victimized."
On Sunday, a video circulated on the Twitter account of Living United for Change in Arizona, or LUCHA, an immigration reform advocacy group, shows activists following Sinema on her way out of a classroom at ASU where she teaches. After she declines to speak to them, they follow her into a bathroom.
The activist can be heard telling Sinema about a grandparent who was deported. In the video, Sinema does not engage with the activists and is seen exiting a stall and washing her hands.
Sinema has been at the center of the battle to get President Joe Biden's economic agenda complete. The bipartisan infrastructure bill she co-wrote has passed the Senate, but is being held up by House Democrats until Sinema — along with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. — commits to voting for a larger safety-net package that contains Biden's domestic priorities.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., defended Sinema on Monday, speaking to a small group of reporters before a floor speech.
“I strongly support the right to peaceful protest. I started my career protesting the Vietnam War, and I get protested all the time. And I understand and so feel for the immigrant community and what they're going through. But following someone into a bathroom and recording them, that's over the line,” said Schumer.
Sinema took aim at lawmakers in her statement saying: "It is the duty of elected leaders to avoid fostering an environment in which honestly-held policy disagreements serve as the basis for vitriol -- raising the temperature in political rhetoric and creating a permission structure for unacceptable behavior.”
Separately, Sinema issued a scathing statement Saturday attacking the House's decision to delay a vote on her infrastructure bill, calling it an "ineffective stunt to gain leverage over a separate proposal" by some lawmakers.