Those skeptical about a much-ballyhooed All North North County Congressional Town Hall ever happening have been vindicated. Turns out the entire event was a scam from the word go.
The North County Economic Development Council supposedly was going to hold a town hall featuring Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-50th Congressional District) and Mike Levin (D-49th Congressional District) from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 19, 2019. Additional sponsors included the Carlsbad, Escondido, Oceanside, San Marcos and Vista chambers of commerce.
When tickets were posted on Eventbrite for the free event to be held at Oceanside’s MiraCosta College Concert Hall, they sold out within two hours.
The event was considered groundbreaking. Levin had held only one local town hall and was under the gun for not paying more attention to North County, considering his Orange County emphasis.
Under 60 federal indictments for over $250,000 in campaign finance fraud, Hunter was even more elusive. The last time he held a town hall, or any event, open to all constintuents and not just supporters under secret circumstances, was a disastrous Ramona town hall in March, 2017 during which Hunter went completely off the rails.
Among other lowlights, the then-unindicted Hunter challenged “deep state” prosecutors to indict him. He said “thousands of Obama appointees” were trying to take down Donald Trump from the inside as “part of an Orwellian government that controls us.” Also referenced “an intelligence community, FBI and Department of Justice that have been infiltrated by seditious Obama folks that want to go after the President.”
Other lowlights included his continued assertion that “people coming in from China, from Pakistan, from Libya, from Afghanistan, from Iran, from Syria, from Turkey, from a lot of places you don’t want them coming in from. They’re coming in from the southern border,” called himself a defender of “Judeo-Christian values that we have in this country,” and presented “The Hunter Plan” for US security: “It’s called you kick ass and you leave,” he said.
Suffice it to say there were more, a lot more, unhinged delusions, but you get the idea. The fact Hunter was said to agree to appear at the six-chambers’ 90-minute written question-and-answer session immediately raised eyebrows and suspicions about the veracity of the event.
Meanwhile, back at Rick’s Cafe’
With past as prologue, in the mode of Capt. Louis Renault’s comment in “Casablanca” that he was “shocked- shocked– to find that gambling is going on in here” at Rick’s Cafe’, further eyebrows were raised when Levin’s communications director, Eric Mee, e-mailed The Grapevine, saying “I am trying to get in touch with (the editor) regarding his story headlined ‘Rep. Duncan Hunter tries to remain relevant.’”
That story referred to Hunter’s supposed agreement to appear at the town hall. In response to questions, Mee later e-mailed: “Due to a scheduling conflict, Rep. Levin will not be at the North San Diego County chambers of commerce town hall. If you would be able to update the article to reflect that, that would be much appreciated.”
Cancellation was confirmed by Erik Bruvold, San Diego North Economic Development Council CEO. “There was a conflict on the representatives’ calendar,” he said. “They didn’t share what the conflict was.”
Both Hunter’s and Levin’s offices contacted the chamber to beg off the event, according to Bruvold, who said the chamber would try to re-schedule the event for another time. Citing it being late Friday afternoon, Bruvold declined to answer further questions.
Bruvold’s statements were suspicious at best, then belied by what his All North County Congressional Town Hall Eventbrite page subsequently posted:
Subject: Townhall postponed
Due to changes in the Congressional calendar and schedules of our representatives, we have to postpone the All North County Congressional Townhall scheduled for March 19th to a later date. We hope to have information later in the year as to a date and location that will work. As registrants we will commit to you to get you information as soon as we are able to reschedule.
We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your interest in the program.
Changes in the congressional calendar?
The implication of that statement, backed up by later private conversations, was that Congress unexpectedly was going to remain in session past the originally scheduled March 19 town hall date. Therefore, the congressmen couldn’t attend.
That was a lie.
Indivisible issued a news release Wednesday, March 13 titled “March recess begins in T-3 days. Find an event near you.”
The release continued:
“This Saturday is the beginning of March congressional recess! That means that from March 16 until March 24, your members of Congress are back on your home turf, hosting town halls, attending public events, spending time in their district offices.
“And it’s YOUR chance to show up in person, ask the hard questions, and get them on the record on the issues you care about from the Green New Deal and Medicare For All, to stopping endless war and lowering prescription drug prices (and more!)”
In other words, Levin and Hunter had no schedule conflicts for March 19, date of the supposed town hall. The Grapevine reached out to both congressional offices earlier Wednesday, but has received no answer as yet.
Presenting Erik Bruvold
The Grapevine also reached out to Bruvold, who was responsible for the entire fiasco. The Grapevine said:
When you cancelled the North County Town Hall you cited “scheduling conflicts.” Those conflicts, according to sources, was due to Congress remaining in session.
Your town hall was scheduled for March 19. However, as it happens, Congress goes on recess March 16 through March 24.
What are your thoughts on this? The fact is the scheduling conflicts did not, nor did they ever, exist. Do you feel taken advantage of? Were you truly serious about holding a town hall? What are your plans for holding a town hall during the recess or ever?
“We stand by our previous statement about the reason for the postponement:“Both offices informed us that they needed to postpone due to scheduling conflicts which emerged after their initial commitment.”
To the question on the future:
“SNEDC and its Chamber partners hope to reschedule an event or events in the future and do, indeed, hope to create a north county tradition of joint town halls/Congressional forums with the representative of the 49th and the 50th”
I don’t have any other comment on the rest of your questions.
Okey-dokey. Yeah, right. Believe it when we see it. What’s obvious here at the catbird seat is this so-called congressional town hall was a sham from beginning to end.
Levin gets a hall pass since he has held an Oceanside town hall.
Hunter? Make us laugh.