When Ames Mayfield’s Cub Scout den met with a Colorado state senator last week, the 11-year-old came prepared with a long list of typed-up questions. He excitedly raised his hand to ask his first one.
Ames pressed the Republican state senator, Vicki Marble, on an issue he knew was important to her: gun legislation. The Cub Scout in Broomfield, about 20 miles north of Denver, asked her a slew of questions about previous bills she had sponsored in support of the right to bear arms, and he wasn’t shy about inserting his opinion.
“I was shocked that you co-sponsored a bill to allow domestic violence offenders to continue to own a gun,” Ames said, according to a video posted to YouTube by his mother. “Why on earth would you want someone who beats their wife to have access to a gun?”
After Ames’s questions went on for more than two minutes, a leader in his group cut him off to allow the state senator to answer. Both the senator and the leader commended him for his “thorough” list of questions.
But after the meeting, the leader of Ames’s Cub Scout pack, which oversees various dens, requested a meeting with his mother. The leader told Ames’s mother, Lori Mayfield, that her son was kicked out of his Cub Scout den, the mother said in an email to The Washington Post.
The son’s den leader was apparently upset over Ames’s questions, particularly the one on gun control, Mayfield said. The mother was told her son’s question was disrespectful and too political.
“I had to go home and tell my son he was kicked out,” Mayfield said. “My son was heartbroken because he really liked this den leader and couldn’t understand why his question was inappropriate.”
Ames was less than four months away from transitioning from the Cub Scouts to the Boy Scouts, his mother said.
The Scouts did not explicitly say he was kicked out of the den. In a statement to The Post and local media outlets the Denver Area Council of the Boy Scouts said only that he remains a member of the larger pack, and that the organization is working with the family to offer him options that will “allow him to continue his Scouting experience in a way that fits his and his family’s needs.”
The Boy Scouts and the Denver Area Council are “committed to working with families interested in Scouting to find local units that are the best fit for their children,” the statement read.
But local news reports of Ames’s apparent removal from his den drew anger across social media, with many arguing that Ames was punished for asking tough questions of a state lawmaker. After all, the den had specifically assigned the scouts to prepare questions for the senator.
Ames’s story drew the attention of gun control advocate and former Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, who was shot in the head by an assailant in 2011, suffering a severe brain injury.
“This is exactly the kind of courage we need in Congress,” Giffords tweeted Thursday. “Ames, call me in 14 years. I’ll campaign for you.”
Giffords’s husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, called Ames and his mother Thursday night to talk about what happened, according to Fox 31.
In a statement to the Denver Post, Marble said that decisions about “who is in or out of a den are internal organizational matters that I won’t second guess.”
“I don’t blame the boy for asking the questions, since I believe there was an element of manipulation involved, and it wasn’t much different from the questions I normally field in other meetings,” Marble told the Denver Post. “The invitation to meet with the Scouts was never intended to cause friction and controversy.”
The focus of the Cub Scouts’ assignment, Mayfield said, was to meet with a government leader and discuss an important issue facing the community. Cub Scouts were instructed to decide on one or two questions, and to be prepared to ask the official about an issue in the local news.
Ames researched the senator before the meeting and decided he would focus his questions on gun control, his mother said. After all, the majority of the videos on Marble’s site deal with gun rights legislation.
“Given that the Las Vegas shooting happened, I felt that it should be a reasonable thing to ask,” Ames told a Denver Fox affiliate. “I don’t feel like I did anything wrong.”
His mother went along to the meeting and filmed it, because “it’s not every day you get to meet with a senator,” Mayfield told The Post.
Other Scouts asked the state senator about her views on President Trump’s proposed border wall and fossil fuel dependence. One Cub Scout wanted to know “why people voted for Obama just because we’ve never had a president with the skin tone of a black person.” Marble responded that she doesn’t know either, and she wondered about that question herself.
Ames also asked Marble about controversial comments she made at a 2013 legislative hearing regarding mortality rates among black people.
According to the Denver Post, in 2013 Marble said: “When you look at life expectancy, there are problems in the black race. Sickle-cell anemia is something that comes up. Diabetes is something that’s prevalent in the genetic makeup, and you just can’t help it.”
“Although I’ve got to say,” she added at the time. “I’ve never had better barbecue and better chicken and ate better in my life than when you go down South and you, I mean, I love it. Everybody loves it.”
Marble responded calmly to Ames’s questions by saying the controversial statements were “made up by the media.”
“We have multicultural foods within the United States and we are very blessed to have it,” she said. “And we all love it and we all eat it. And we just better figure out our genetics and if they aren’t eating properly find out how to do better.”
After Mayfield posted the videos on YouTube, the website Colorado Pols published a story about the senator’s exchange with the Cub Scouts. It was after this article published that Ames’s pack leader requested a meeting with his mother.
Mayfield said she was told by the pack leader that Ames should not have brought up the topic of gun control, although Mayfield asserts the Scouts weren’t given any parameters before the meeting. The pack leader, she said, told her words Ames used were disrespectful, such as “why on earth,” the mention of “Republicans” and the phrase, “if you truly represent your constituents.”
“I completely disagree and felt my son followed the directions of the assignment and asked hard-hitting, but certainly not disrespectful, questions,” Mayfield said. She argued that other students’ questions were just as political.
Ames “has taken great interest in politics,” his mother said. The fifth grader was so troubled by recent events that he ran for student council and executive council treasurer at his school. He won both elections, voted in by his peers.
This was her son’s fifth year in Cub Scouts. He has the top seller of his pack’s popcorn fundraiser, taking in $2,750 in just two weeks to pay for his dues and all of his activities for the rest of his time in Cub Scouts.
“Sadly, he will not get to reap the full benefit of his hard work,” his mother said.