Capitol Hill swarmed by straightjacketed performers in Kinzinger-led push

Photo: Andrew Solender/Axios

Former Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) turned heads on Capitol Hill this week by sending performance artists dressed in straitjackets and blue-and-red tinted glasses to the House offices.

Why it matters: It's part of a campaign Kinzinger is launching against political extremism and attention-grabbing political antics at a time when the House is focused on flashy hearings and probes into the Biden administration.

  • Kinzinger told Politico, which first reported his campaign, that the glasses symbolize the ideological binary in the American political system: "We’ve been programmed so much to believe … that each event in the world should be seen through blue or red glasses."
  • Kinzinger retired from Congress this year after voting to impeach former President Trump over the Jan. 6 attack and serving on the Jan. 6 select committee.

The state of play: The performers were first spotted roaming the House office buildings on Tuesday, perplexing lawmakers and staffers with their unwillingness to speak or do anything to broadcast their message.

  • The mystery was solved on Wednesday, when they began carrying QR codes that link to a website denouncing political extremism and calling to "reject conspiracies and stand for truth, courage and integrity."

What he's saying: "We call them 'drones'," Kinzinger told Axios in an interview. "They're just kind of droning around, they really don't have a purpose at the moment … because they just feel unrepresented. They feel like government is just kind of going along."

  • By "grabbing attention," Kinzinger said, they're also meant to satirize the "desperate need of every lawmaker and staffer there" to get onto television and go viral on social media.
  • Kinzinger said the purpose of them staying silent at first was to cultivate mystique.

By the numbers: Kinzinger said he is spending $250,000 on an "initial launch," including TV and digital ads, billboards and other performance art campaigns.

  • "I'm sure it'll end up probably building to be even more."
  • The money comes from Kinzinger’s 501(c)(4), Country First Action.

What we're watching: The anti-Trump Republican suggested he plans to stay in the GOP and will likely run for office again: "It's not, like, on my radar right now … [but] I expect that there will be a moment where it's like, okay I'm ready to do this again."

  • He added: "Anything but the House."

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