New Jersey congressman reportedly called out opposing activist in letter to boss
16 May, 2017, 08:04
A New Jersey congressman noted on a fundraising letter to a supporter that one of his employees was among the "ringleaders" opposing him, WNYC's Matt Katz reports.
Just as Trump targets his "enemies" in the press, his political opposition, and even in the FBI, Frelinghuysen took aim at a woman who protested him, and wrote a letter of complaint to her employer.
According to Federal Election Commission records, Mr O'Dowd has given $700 to Mr Frelinghuysen during previous elections and contributes to lobbying groups for bankers who have met with Mr Frelinghuysen.
"L$3 et's be clear that there are organized forces - both national and local - who are already hard to work to put a stop to the agenda of limited government, economic growth and stronger national security", Frelinghuysen's letter reads. A hand-written addition accompanied the copy sent to the bank, saying "One of the the ringleaders works in your bank" at the bottom. She called the letter a "shameful abuse of power" in a statement.
Avelenda's boss confronted her about Frelinghuysen's letter.
She was not fired by the bank, but told WNYC that she had to write a statement explaining the situation to her CEO.
She has since resigned from her job, citing the letter as one of the reasons.
The letter from Frelinghuysen may be more of a political problem than a legal one, according to a lawyer and former staffer for the Office of Congressional Ethics who spoke on condition of anonymity. The pressure she felt to defend her political involvement outside of her employment is what led her to resign, she said. The group calls on Frelinghuysen to meet with constituents and to avoid the Trump agenda. Rep Frelinghuysen's actions are disturbing and alarming.
"I thought my Congressman put them in a situation, and put me in a really bad situation as the constituent, and used his name, used his position and used his stationery to try to punish me", said Avelenda, an activist with the liberal group NJ 11th for Change. "Whether or not it breaks a criminal statute is one issue, but the very clear issue is that it appears that a member of Congress might be using his power to threaten someone's employment due to their political activities". How can democracy work if ordinary citizens are intimidated or their livelihoods threatened when speaking out?
Lakeland Bank did not respond to WNYC's request for comment, nor has it responded to the multiple posts of the Frelinghuysen story that have appeared in the comments of its Facebook page. But in that regard, he failed, because our voices will not be silenced by his intimidation tactics.
Rep. Frelinghuysen has drawn fierce criticism from constituents in his district for his stances on environmental deregulation and his "yes" vote on the revised American Health Care Act bill that passed the House earlier this month.
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