Senate Republican spokesman Scott Reif released a statement this afternoon defending the decision to bar protesters and organizations from attending the Senate Elections Committee’s hearing on public financing earlier this morning.

NYPIRG formally protested the decision to block advocates for public financing of political campaigns from room in a letter to the Committee on Open Government.

But Reif points to protestors trying to “disrupt” the hearing that was taking a critical look at the city’s public financing system and that the Capitol hearing room had reached capacity.

The hearing was also webcast online, Reif said.

“It won’t come as a shock to anyone that this complaint comes from organizations who support using taxpayer dollars to fund political campaigns,” Reif said in the statement. “They say they support free speech, yet they attempted to disrupt a hearing and prevent members of the Elections Committee from taking testimony on the City’s taxpayer-funded election system. This hearing was webcast live and we made every effort to get as many people into the room as possible, including every reporter who wanted to attend. As the room reached occupancy, we were instructed to close the room.”