Webster claimed he just wanted to "share some friendly advice" with other Republicans, notably Phil Gingrey of Georgia and Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, two fellow representatives he sent the document to. Webster's nonsensical explanation was that he wanted to help other members "manage" town hall meetings and protesters that attend them. What got sent out, though, had no information about how to manage anything, and instead targeted six central Florida activists with inaccurate and irrelevant information.
The Orlando Sentinel, notable for it's right wing leanings, uncritically accepted Webster's take on the protesters, saying that they "disrupted" town hall meetings, ignoring the fact that all of the protesters were Webster's constituents who had legitimate questions the member of Congress refused to address.
Webster did not create the documents himself and claims they came from a constituent who he refuses to name, hypocritical in light of the tone of the flier, which tells journalists to ask who is providing information because they might be associated with groups that have an agenda that drives their actions. One of the targeted activists echoed this sentiment:
"I think it's pretty weird. Someone asks a legitimate question, and all of the sudden somebody's got a dossier on you," said Orlando resident Ron Parsell. "It's the type of thing they'd do in old Russia."
Webster was unapologetic about sending out the flier, offering the weak response that blamed the activists for taking offense.
"If they [the six on the watch list] in any way feel injured in it, I would [apologize] for sure," said Webster, adding that he didn't see it as a big issue.
"Me — I would not need an apology," he said.
In an interview with the Orlando Sentinel (see video above), Webster echoed the handout by suggesting that his protesters are former members of ACORN and MoveOn. Webster implied that the protesters might be violent, saying that he got a letter from a constituent who left a town hall meeting because she was afraid.
Tamecka Pierce, another one of those targeted, rejects Webster's downplaying of the handout.
"It's scary to be put on a watch list. I think it will discourage people from speaking out. I don't know what repercussions this will have in my personal life...They're trying to demonize us because we're pushing back on cuts that affect me and others."
Tim Griffin's explanation was even stranger than Webster's. He explicitly said the point of distrubting the watch lists was to "chill" what he called "political theater." He also inexplicably said: "I didn't know they were real people."