Pocan proposes invalidating liability waivers for rallies during pandemic

    MILWAUKEE, WI - JANUARY 14: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally at UW Milwaukee's Panther Arena. Trump, who is the third president to face impeached, now faces an impending trial in the Senate. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
    MILWAUKEE, WI - JANUARY 14: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally at UW Milwaukee's Panther Arena. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

    Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Black Earth)  announced on Tuesday that he is introducing legislation to prevent liability waivers from being enforced for indoor gatherings of 1,000 or more people in places where the 14-day COVID case trend is increasing.

    Congressman Mark Pocan
    U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan

    The Refusal to Accept Losses or Liability In Every Situation Act (RALLIES) Act would invalidate the liability waivers President Donald Trump’s campaign is planning to distribute at his rally at an indoor arena in Tulsa, Okla. on Saturday.

    “As we see cases continue to rise — including over 300 new cases in Tulsa County over the last week alone — this President wants the right to endanger thousands of people at an indoor stadium with impunity,” Pocan said in a statement. “We refuse to let a candidate for re-election threaten the lives of the people of this country for political gain. With over 2 million COVID cases in the United States and over 116,000 deaths, I would hope this president’s actions would prioritize recovery, not a resurgence in cases nationwide.”

    In a letter to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield last week, Pocan asked for Redfield’s professional opinion on  whether states and localities should permit large indoor public events attended by thousands of participants not practicing social distancing or face-covering practices — particularly if organizers require liability waivers to attend due to the likelihood of contracting COVID-19. 

    “As CDC Director, I implore you to be honest with every American about the dangers of large indoor gatherings and signing their liability protections away,”  Pocan wrote, “and to lead the President and other elected officials in a manner consistent with current data. To operate in any other manner will not only irrevocably stain any legacy of public service you leave behind, it will cost Americans their lives.”

    According to Pocan’s office, Redfield had not responded by Tuesday when he introduced the RALLIES Act.

    Ruth Conniff
    Ruth Conniff is Editor-in-chief of the Wisconsin Examiner. She formerly served as Editor-in-chief of The Progressive Magazine where she worked for many years from both Madison and Washington, DC. Shortly after Donald Trump took office she moved with her family to Oaxaca, Mexico, and covered U.S./Mexico relations, the migrant caravan, and Mexico’s efforts to grapple with Trump. Conniff is a frequent guest on MSNBC and has appeared on Good Morning America, Democracy Now!, Wisconsin Public Radio, CNN, Fox News and many other radio and television outlets. She has also written for The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications. She graduated from Yale University in 1990, where she ran track and edited the campus magazine The New Journal. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband and three daughters.