Conservative group jumps the gun with release

UPDATE: This post initially misidentified the group involved as Americans for Prosperity. I regret the error.

There's been plenty of real, genuine outrage when it comes to the town hall meetings being held around the country.

But a couple of conservative activists say Americans for Limited Government (ALG) went too far when it came to their meeting with Rep. Zack Space (D-Ohio).

Tom Montgomery and Ron Elble gained publicity (with ALG's help) for delivering a letter to Space's office urging him to hold town hall meetings, which the congressman has declined to do.

But when ALG announced the delivery of the letter beforehand, Space was ready. He invited Montgomery, Elble and an accompanying camera crew from the Cincinnati Fox affiliate into his office for a meeting that lasted well over an hour.

Montgomery and Elble came out of the meeting happy, though they still have plenty of reservations about the Democratic-led health care bill and Space's lack of town halls. They both praised the congressman for sitting down with them and called it a positive meeting.

But ALG issued a press release after the meeting with plenty of angry quotes from Montgomery and Elble, and the duo said it was done without their permission. Each said they were not contacted before the release was sent out, and they have sought a revised version.

"I was upset, because what I read wasn't exactly what I felt; it was too strong," said Montgomery, who runs an insurance company in Zanesville, Ohio. "It's just not fair to anybody to put that out, because it's not the true situation."

Elble said ALG didn't follow protocol.

"There were some assumptions in that initial (release) that weren't really correct," Elble said. "They didn't follow some of the channels of communication that should have been followed before it was released."

ALG's Walker Yates took responsibility for the errant release.

"There was a miscommunication on our end, and it went out too early," Yates said. "It went out without Tom's approval, and we sent an addendum the next day."

Space told The Hill he thought the three of them had had a good meeting before he saw the ALG release. He said he called them to reconcile ALG's version with his own, and they told him ALG had jumped the gun.

Space said the situation shows how outside groups can screw things up for those with legitimate concerns.

"I find that part of the process very offensive," Space said. "That's precisely what we don't need.

"When you get things like what we just saw happening, it undermines the entire process," he added. "It creates a lack of trust and credibility, and that undermines the debate."