By Doug Porter
These are troubled times for San Diego’s Republican Congressmen.
District 49’s Darrell Issa would appear to be one of the early political casualties in the failed battle for #TrumpDontCare.
District 50’s Duncan Hunter is in bigger trouble, as the House Ethics Committee has been told by the Justice Department to step aside while a more consequential investigation proceeds, one with a high probability of criminal indictments.
What both men have in common –besides their early endorsements of Trump for President– is the determined opposition of local Indivisible groups. CNN will be taping in Vista on Tuesday, as North County progressives continue to picket Darrell Issa’s office.
The Week That Was for Issa
Last week’s Tuesday Issa protest included a ‘die-in’ targeting the shortcomings of the now-failed Republican effort at health care reform.
From the Union-Tribune:
The event was part protest, part street theater, with many of the 300-plus participants lying on the lawn, holding signs shaped like tombstones. Organizers put the number of attendees near 380.
The event was part of the national “Resist Trump Tuesdays” movement. Protesters said they will continue to show up outside Issa’s office every Tuesday during President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office.
Over the weekend, TV viewers locally were treated to ads from the American Action Network congratulating Issa for his vote repealing the Affordable Care Act. Given that the bill was pulled from consideration, the message here served to remind viewers, of Congressman’s position in favor of what’s turned out to be huge political defeat.
— Mike Levin (@MikeLevinCA) March 27, 2017
On Friday evening Issa missed a scheduled keynote speech before the Vista Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting the Leaders Dinner, having stayed in DC for a vote that never happened.
More than 100 Trump opponents faced off (peacefully) against roughly three dozen supporters outside the Shadowridge Country Club.
From the Union-Tribune:
Passersby honked and waved at one side of the crowd or the other during the dueling rallies. One man yelled “communists” as he drove past the Trump detractors.
Since the November election, when Issa retained his House seat by a razor-thin margin, the Vista congressman has been dogged by protesters rallying each week outside his office, calling on him to reject the proposed repeal of Obamacare. They’ve also voiced displeasure at the president’s cabinet picks and policies.
Tuesday, March 28th’s event in Vista, according to Indivisible North San Diego County, will include demands for an independent investigation of President Trump’s ties to Russia and the release of his tax returns.
The 49th District incumbent Republican already has two announced challengers: 2016 opponent Doug Applegate and Orange County Attorney Mike Levin.
Duncan Hunter’s Really Bad Week
The news continues to get worse for the District 50 Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter.
The House Ethics Committee voted to defer an investigation into the allegations at the request of the Justice Department on Thursday.
An inquiry by the Federal Elections Commission concerning improper spending disclosures has mushroomed. Investigative reporting by the Union-Tribune revealed a long list of payments clearly made for personal reasons.
The Congressman repaid nearly $62,000 in personal expenses charged to his campaign last fall, including payments that have made him the subject of widespread ridicule. Those improper charges included $600 in airline tickets to fly a pet rabbit, leading some activists to don bunny ears during protests in his district.
From CBS 8 News:
Noah Bookbinder, executive director of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, called the allegations against Hunter “the most egregious congressional spending scandal since Aaron Schock,” an Illinois Republican who resigned in 2015 amid scrutiny over real estate deals, extensive travel and other spending. Questions about Schock’s spending were sparked in part by word that he redecorated his congressional office in the lavish style of TV’s “Downton Abbey.”
Now the bunnies may be coming home to roost one last time.
From today’s Union-Tribune:
Since 2010, the Ethics Committee has released public statements about its review of allegations against dozens of lawmakers. The Union-Tribune identified four cases in which statements announced deferral to the Justice Department. Hunter’s case was the fifth.
In three of the four cases, the lawmaker under investigation was indicted, according to the Union-Tribune’s review of news coverage. A grand jury has been called in the fourth case.
Of the three lawmakers indicted, two were convicted of crimes and sent to prison. The third lawmaker’s criminal case was ongoing as of Friday.
But Wait! There’s More!
Hunter’s counterattack on his critics via Facebook isn’t aging well:
It would appear Hunter hasn’t changed his ways, via this weekend’s reporting by the Escondido Grapevine:
As ridiculous and obviously illegal as Hunter’s eight years of office has proved to be, one would think he had at least learned the lesson that spending campaign money on personal expenses was a bad idea.
One would be wrong.
An Escondido Grapevine investigation of Hunter’s last round of Federal Election Commission filings discovered he doubled down on his use of campaign funds for personal expenses in the last six weeks of 2016. He spent $58,062 of his $771,345 campaign fund for 2018 re-election expenses precisely mimicking the ones he admitted to, and repaid, just before the 2016 election.
Dirty Duncan Demonstrations
Over 230 rallied on Saturday at Westfield North County Mall, calling attention to Duncan’s (likely) pending legal troubles and their opposition to the Trump policies he supports.
The rally was considered so successful (remember D50 is very Republican) that organizers with Indivisible are planning an encore for Saturday, April 1at 11am. In addition to calls for Duncan’s resignation, they’ll also be reacting to “more than circumstantial evidence” of collusion between the administration and Russia and the release of Trump’s tax returns.
Another Congressional Recess?
Congress will be taking yet another break April 8–23 and already Indivisible and affiliated groups are organizing activities. The Missing Members of Congress Action Plan will be put into play once again, leading to town halls or public forums where elected representatives will be expected to listen to the public and account for their actions.
There’s a good story at Salon about the beginnings of the anti-Trump movement, and here’s a snip from the story of founders Ezra Levin, Leah Greenberg, and Sarah Dohl:
As Dohl shared with me via email, as of March 21, Indivisible had 18.47 million page views, 3.03 million unique users from every state, 2.02 million downloads/views of the Indivisible Guide, and 2.97 million searches for a group, meeting or event. They currently have 5,802 verified groups, with at least two in every congressional district.
As a point of comparison, the Tea Party spiked at about 1,000 local groups.
The successes of the town hall movement are also chronicled in the story:
In one noteworthy example, Indivisible urged its supporters to take advantage of the congressional recess that occurred during the week of Feb. 17-26, during which time members of Congress often hold town halls back home. They issued a step-by-step guide to help members use these town halls to great effect, especially in cases where the lawmaker was nowhere to be found.
In some cases “concerned” individuals launched campaigns to locate their “missing” representatives. For example, missing posters featuring Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., were posted around his California congressional district. Missing notices for Rep. Paul Cook, R-Calif., were posted on milk cartons within his district and posted to the @WhereIsPaulCook Twitter account using the hashtag #prayforpaul, and a tongue-in-cheek candlelight vigil was held to mourn his absence and urge him to return home to his constituents. Other town halls were held with empty chairs, empty suits, or even a chicken standing in for the missing politician.
Looking for some action? Check out the Weekly Progressive Calendar, published every Friday in this space, featuring Demonstrations, Rallies, Teach-ins, Meet Ups and other opportunities to get your activism on.
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