On Monday, Democratic strategist Josh Henne published a thoughtful op/ed taking to task Republican Congressmen who seemed to be hiding from the angry mobs that have sprung up nationwide at town halls that were held during the Congressional that ended this weekend. Henne accused Reps. Chris Smith (NJ-4), Tom MacArthur (NJ-3), Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ-11), and Frank LoBiondo (NJ-2) of being “cowardly” and “shirking their duty” for having avoided the protests (he also praised Leonard Lance for facing the music, and acknowledged that MacArthur “caved” to pressure and arranged a last-minute town hall on Monday).
“Their rebuff is terrible for their constituents, this state, and democracy,” wrote Henne, and the headline mocked the constituent dodgers by saying “A FEW BOOS AND TOUGH QUESTIONS WON’T KILL YOU.”
Well, at least one Republican operative isn’t so sure that the harm directed at the reluctant Congressmen and their staffs will be limited to a few boos and tough questions.
On Monday, Frank Luna, the lovable long-hair-and-bearded surfer dude who serves as District Chief of Staff to MacArthur, posted an extraordinary message on his Facebook page.
“In the past few weeks I’ve been called an Altamont-style goon, a pony-tailed trickster in a thousand dollar suit, a carpetbagger, a thug, and a troll, just to name a few. My parents have been harassed at their home and I’ve watched people work actively to smear the name of a good man I happen to work for.”
Luna goes on to describe how the internet tough guys who are harassing him cannot reach him where he lives because unlike many congressional staffers, he knows what it means to struggle.
“I know what it’s like to live day to day financially. I know what it’s like to have no savings and an overdrawn checking account. I know what it’s like to be sick with no health insurance. I know what it’s like to go to bed hungry.”
The posting unleashed a torrent of support, with over 400 approving likes and a hundred supportive comments. Reached on Monday before MacArthur’s town hall, Luna told PolitickerNJ that the harassment didn’t end with email or with MacArthur. “I know Smith’s office has had a ton of abuse. I had a staffer cursed and screamed at the other day to the point of tears.”
One MacArthur staffer who declined to be named told PolitickerNJ, “We’ve had about a dozen incidents forwarded to Capitol police. It’s crazy what people will say and write.”