UPDATE: Third District Congressman Derrick Van Orden abruptly cancels town of Campbell meeting amid criticism over incident with Senate pages

LA CROSSE, Wis. – WisPolitics as well as a number of other news outlets are reporting that Wisconsin Third District Congressman Derrick Van Orden (R-Prairie du Chien) has canceled a planned meeting in the town of Campbell in La Crosse County this afternoon.

After reporting this morning that Van Orden would speak to press this afternoon in the town of Campbell, WKBT’s News 8 Now announced in its noon newscast that Van Orden’s event was canceled. Van Orden had originally scheduled the meeting to talk about funding for PFAS programs.

So far van Orden has not apologized for a verbal tirade he reportedly delivered to a group of Senate Pages who were in the Rotunda of the Capitol when Van Orden was leading a tour of the building late one night last week. The incident has brought bipartisan criticism of Van Orden’s behavior. Senate pages are high school aged staff that typically work on Capitol Hill for their respective representatives. You can read the previous story about that incident below.

When first asked about the incident Van Orden told one media outlet that “bad press has never bothered me, and if it’s the price I pay to stand up for what’s right, then so be it.” Van Orden also did a round of interviews with various conservative radio shows over the weekend and also appeared on Breitbart News Saturday host Matthew Boyle, where he talked about the incident. In that interview Van Orden said those in the media who are criticizing his behavior are trying to ignore all the accomplishments that House Republicans have made thus far.

Previous post July 28, 2023

Report: Third District Congressman Van Orden curses out group of teenage pages

by Henry Redman, Wisconsin Examiner
July 27, 2023

Wisconsin Republican Rep. Derrick Van Orden cursed out a group of high school-aged Senate pages for taking pictures on the floor of the Capitol Rotunda on Wednesday night, Punchbowl News reported Thursday. 

Pages work for the Senate carrying and delivering legislative materials and assisting lawmakers during floor debates. The pages who Van Orden yelled at were taking the photos during their last week on the job. 

Punchbowl News reporter Jake Sherman reported that while the pages were on the floor, Van Orden, using several expletives, called them lazy and told them to get off the floor. 

“Wake the f— up you little s—-. … What the f— are you all doing? Get the f— out of here. You are defiling the space you [pieces of s—],” Van Orden said, according to an account of the incident provided to The Hill by a page.

“Who the f— are you?” Van Orden asked, to which one person said they were Senate pages. “I don’t give a f— who you are, get out.”

“You jackasses, get out,” he added.

Van Orden said in a statement that he thought the pages were being disrespectful by lying on the floor because the Capitol rotunda was used as a field hospital during the Civil War. 

“The Capitol Rotunda served as a field hospital where countless Union soldiers died fighting to free men in the Civil War,” Van Orden said. “I have long said our nation’s Capitol is a symbol of the sacrifice our servicemen and women have made for this country and should never be treated like a frat house common room. Threatening a congressman with bad press to excuse poor behavior is a reminder of everything that’s wrong with Washington. Luckily, bad press has never bothered me and if it’s the price I pay to stand up for what’s right, then so be it.”

In 2021, Van Orden used campaign donations to attend the protest in Washington D.C. that ultimately led to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Despite saying he did not enter Capitol grounds, photos and reports have placed him beyond police barriers that day. 

The first-term congressman has a history of incidents involving teenagers. In 2021 staff members of the Prairie du Chien library accused him of harassing a 17-year-old library employee over a display of LGBTQ-related books. 

Van Orden, who represents western Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District, has also been criticized for sharing in his 2015 book that while serving as a Navy SEAL he exposed another man’s swollen genitals to two female officers. 

He has also been fined for trying to bring a gun on an airplane in his carryon luggage.



Wisconsin Examiner is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Wisconsin Examiner maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Ruth Conniff for questions: Follow Wisconsin Examiner on Facebook and Twitter.

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