When over 2,000 of us showed up to Congressman Leonard Lance's town hall meetings last month, we wanted to ensure a robust, honest, polite but forceful discussion of the issues, most notably ACA repeal, the travel ban, investigations into ties between Russia and the Trump administration and the troublesome treatment of the press. There was much to discuss and a limited amount of time in which to do it. Understanding this, many of us, before coming to the meeting, not only decided which question to ask if our number got called, but researched the issue in order to have our facts straight. We knew that if the question was presented incorrectly, it would give Congressman Lance an opportunity to pivot away from the essentials into quibbling over a minor detail. We all came prepared not because we were coached by a Super PAC but because the residents of District 7 are well-read, informed, and educated.
On Feb. 23,2017, Congressman Lance said on MSNBC, "Incidentally those at my town hall meeting last night, and I'm sure this will be true on Saturday morning, were not paid."
I attended the meeting on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017, and after some general remarks and recognitions, the congressman unequivocally stated, to loud applause, that he did not believe anyone attending the meeting or protesting was paid to do so. It was a good political gambit to try and win over the crowd from the outset. And now we know Congressman Lance was posturing as he does in much of his rhetoric no matter the issue.
Over this past weekend, WNYC reported that Leonard Lance has sent out a fundraising letter in which he claims that a Hillary Super PAC is behind those protesting. Never mind the outrageous notion that he is already raising money for an election that is two years away and at a time when the country is in utter distress. In his letter, Lance states, "Help me fight back against the liberal left. " And then, "P.S. A former Hillary Clinton Super PAC has set its sights on me, launching a paid campaign to send liberal protesters to disrupt my public events – and they have big plans to target me throughout this election cycle!"
There is one thing compelling residents in Lance's district to mobilize against him, and it is not a Super PAC. It is Congressman Lance. His lack of transparency and willingness to go along to get along in Washington instead of coming back to, standing up for and defending the moderate Republican positions he used to hold. Congressman Lance enjoyed being touted as the only Republican holding town hall meetings in NJ over the recess. And while we thank him for it, he was only doing his job.
And a bad job at that. In the meetings he proclaimed from the podium what should be, at least in NJ if not in the rest of the country, working assumptions and givens about our government representatives, i.e. he opposes anti-Semitism; he believes in a free press; America should be tough on Russia. But when he was asked to denounce white-supremacist Steve Bannon, he floundered. When asked if he would support an independent investigation of Russia, he said the House and Senate committees are doing a fine job. It seems Leonard Lance is not up to the tough job of leading.
We are not being paid or cajoled by anyone to show up and stand up against Congressman Leonard Lance. And if we have anything to say about it, in 2018 Leonard Lance will no longer be paid by the government for his "service."