Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) accused a vaping advocate of being a "conspiracy theorist" after seeing her wink at a lawmaker on Tuesday.
"You call yourself a converted conservative and reformed Marxist. Are you a conspiracy theorist?" Tlaib asked Vicki Porter, who testified to the House Oversight Committee about her experience using e-cigarettes to quit smoking. When Porter declined to answer, saying her political views were not relevant, Tlaib justified the question by pointing out Porter had winked at a Republican on the committee.
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Tlaib asked Porter why she winked at Republican representative Glenn Grothman (R., Wis.) earlier in the hearing. Porter said Grothman, who introduced her at the panel, was a friend.
"I didn't know what the winking was because I thought there was something like a conspiracy thing going on there," Tlaib said.
"You think there's a conspiracy in this hearing, ma'am?" Porter asked.
Porter visited Capitol Hill to testify in support of electronic cigarettes as a valid tool to quit smoking. In her biography submitted to the House panel, Porter wrote that she was invited to share her experience and did not represent any specific group. E-cigarettes have faced scrutiny from state and federal regulators after a number of illnesses and even deaths were linked to vaporized THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
Porter said outlawing the traditional nicotine vape would hinder efforts to curb traditional cigarette use. Tlaib, however, accused her of being misleading about her own tobacco habits.
"I quit smoking with e-cigarettes and so did 8 million other people," Porter told Tlaib.
"You're still smoking ma'am, you're still smoking," Tlaib said.
"I'm not smoking. And I'm not lying under oath," Porter responded.
Tlaib recently defended an anti-Israel activist who was kicked off the board of the Women's March due to concerns about anti-Semitic comments the activist had made.