Exclusive: Rep. Richard Hanna has non-public public event in Vestal, NY

Very quietly, Rep. Richard Hanna has been apparently attempting to rally Republicans since the beginning of the year – after votes on abortion and Executive Orders via Department of Homeland Security funding drew strong negative attention. Already there have been selective robocalls and at least one mass mailing (taxpayer funded) sent out to some constituents since February. In addition, at least one semi-private meet-and-greet took place, March 13, 2015.

HR 2131

Without fanfare, and directly avoiding the press, Rep. Hanna contacted select individuals in the Broome County area to join him at the Plaza Diner in Vestal, NY on March 13, 2015. These cherry-picked individuals were invited for an event from 7:00 AM until 9:00 AM as we were able to learn. While there is no information on the number of people invited, a total of some 30 individuals, all apparently in their mid-forties or older, none people of color, attended the event.

At 7:35 AM, Rep. Richard Hanna arrived at the diner with the compliment of 6 of his staff. It was at this time that authorization was denied, by the staff of Rep. Hanna, to tape or otherwise record the event – including any photos of the event. Permission was given to sit at the event, and that the Congressman would try to take some time to speak with Michael “Vass” Vasquez, president of M V Consulting, Inc (who wrote this article, and was a former candidate for the same seat as the incumbent in 2014).

Rep. Hanna and 4 staff speak to public

Rep. Hanna did the usual meet and greet, without speaking to the group as a whole. He shook hands, smiled, and took the opportunity to speak with the gathered exclusive invitees with his ever present staff hovering close by. Each person at the was given a “Congress in your community” flyer. Press secretary Renee Gamela advised that the flyer and event were to share with constituents the services and capabilities available via Rep. Hanna’s office.

The message to constituents – which appears that the overwhelming majority have never received – highlighted several items that seem to be disputable. They include:

Flyer given to select voters by Rep. Richard Hanna

Back of flyer given to select voters by Rep. Richard Hanna

Fracking and Gun control survey from Rep. Richard Hanna

  • Rep. Hanna promotes his votes to cut wasteful spending - but does not mention or address his vote to allow unfettered debt ceiling increases in 2014, or his votes to fully fund Obamacare (which many consider wasteful, especially considering the botched launch and continuing issues). The only Bill he sponsored to cut wasteful spending  was HR 6324, in 2012, that died in the Senate.
  • Rep. Hanna promoted his efforts to lower taxes for individuals and businesses - but neglects to mention that the last time he tried to lower corporate taxes was in 2011 (HR 609 – Bill died in House, 32 sponsors).
  • Rep. Hanna promoted his support of the 2nd Amendment - but fails to mention his declining to attend a 2014 anti-NY Safe Act rally, and vote for HR 4660 that paid States $19.5 million to add people to the NICS database to deny them gun rights (discussed at length in article House of Representatives passes Bill, enables restriction of 2nd Amendment right). Also see below about the survey.

In fact, Rep. Hanna fails to mention that of the 28 Bills that he has sponsored since 2011, only 4 have been enacted (2 for baseball coins, 1 to name a post office, 1 for a technical regulation change).  In addition only 2 Bills passed the House, both in 2012 an election year. One was another technical regulation change, the other was the above mentioned wasteful spending HR 6324. Both of the Bills died and only the technical regulation change has been resubmitted since that time.

The flyer also contained a brief survey. It asked the selected audience to provide an answer to the top economic issue in their opinion. Based on our observations, some answers would likely include Food Stamp legislation – a question asked that Rep. Hanna deferred to his political aide – and jobs for those 55 and older. Another question included whether or not to support natural gas (fracking) in New York. Also whether or not to support additional gun control measures – which seems an odd question for a Representative that states he is a 2nd Amendment advocate with a constituent base that largely is in opposition to gun restrictions such as the NY Safe Act.

Rep. Richard Hanna

Eventually we spoke with Rep. Hanna for a few minutes. He cordially noted that the event was focused on serving the public. He also mentioned strongly that his office was one of the most effective at addressing and resolving concerns of constituents in Congress. There is no known dispute with that claim.

Rep. Hanna responded to our question on his views about the letter to Iran by 47 Republicans, stating,

“I disagree with that. I felt it was inappropriate. When our nation acts and appears divided, especially when the terms of the deal are not final, it does help us. And several of the Republicans have retracted their position already.”

The letter, though essentially correct in its legal standing, has been subject to some backlash and negative media hype. But as of March 11, 2015, none of the 47 Senators who signed the letter have recanted it and it is unclear what Rep. Hanna meant by “retracted.”

Rep. Hanna also answered a speculative question about a potential challenge by Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi to run in 2016 for Congress. Rep. Hanna stated,

“Yes I do know Michael… I mean Anthony. I’m not aware if he will run, but I’m open to it. I welcome and admire anyone that has the guts to run for this office. A lot of people talk because everyone wants this job, but if they look at it, it’s a lot harder than they might think. But it’s not something we are focused on, we are here to help the people, and the people will pick who they want.”

As we noted in the article Assemblyman Brindisi wants to repeal the Safe Act, but why should we care?, it does appear that Brindisi may be in the early stages of establishing a run for Congress. There are also indications that Rep. Hanna has been taking action, as noted previously, to shore up his own re-election chances and to fend off challengers both from Democrats as well as Republicans and Conservatives.

When asked for a the opportunity to have a one-on-one in-depth interview, Rep. Hanna neither confirmed nor denied the request. Rep. Hanna deferred to Ms. Giameli to consider arranging a meeting. When advised that he ultimately makes the decision on an interview, Rep. Hanna stated, “We will see.”

Rep. Hanna went on to speak with the rest of the selected audience individually. At about 8:45 AM, we left the Vestal Diner. As of this article being written, we are awaiting photos [We received photos from Ms. Gamela after publication of this document on 3/13/15] from the staff of Rep. Hanna that were taken of the event. In addition we are awaiting official response on several questions, including our request for interview.

While it is not uncommon for any elected politician to hold events for selected groups of constituents, nor for those events to be on occasion restricted from the news media, the public venue and nature of the event was odd. We thank Rep. Hanna for the access to the event, though it was highly limited in nature, as we believe the public deserves to know what actions our elected politicians are taking. This especially true when so little time has been spent by Rep. Hanna in the Southern Tier since he became the representative of the 22nd Congressional District of New York.

Rating 3.00 out of 5

26 Comments

  1. Ronald Griffiths

    More information on Congressman ‪#‎RichardHanna‬’s not-so-public, “public” forum. Why is he being so secretive? ‪#‎NY22‬ ‪#‎NYS‬ ‪#‎tcot‬

  2. Drew Savoie

    Hanna sneaking around trying to get support for gun control. We need to recall this bastard. This is absolutely amazing, closed to the press. This is our 22nd district, and we have to save it from the Obama boot licker!

  3. From the Facebook share by Jeff O’Brien

    Jim O’Brien

    A very poorly written article and obviously one sided. I challenge some of the articles statements

  4. Michael Vasquez

    Jim, what would you like to challenge? Because Rep. Hanna and his staff have no objection. Is it poorly written because you don’t like what is presented?

  5. Jim O’Brien

    It is a very bias article, in my opinion. I don’t mind challenging any politician but it should be presented so the reader may form their own opinion. If you are posturing for another run at the position, fine. We, as a country and a party, need to unite. We have a President who is ripping this country apart and we don’t need to help him. Mr. Hanna was the people’s choice. We should ALL voice our opinions to him and be sure that he listens. If he doesn’t then we need to elect another. I read your article and saw an author that was doing more of the same, DIVIDING. Let’s come together as a party and a country. That’s what made this a great country and a world leader

  6. Jeff O’Brien

    Unity is key. Unfortunately the established Republicans want to unite more with the Left than who put them in the seats they hold to begin with.

  7. Michael Vasquez

    Jim, if I decide to run I will announce it and stop writing as I did in 2013. But, I reported what happened. From the confusion with the staff of the Plaza Diner who did not know about the event to the statements by Rep. Hanna and his staff. The facts of his voting record were presented, alongside the documents he provided to the selected audience. The event was not public announced, though afterwards I see Rep. Hanna has used photos of it on his Facebook page – which is a bit deceptive. Not one fact presented is less than balancing the selective presentation that he made. How people feel about it is up to them. I just want people to know the complete facts and not an edited version.

  8. Michael Vasquez

    As for uniting as a Party, that’s fine. But I want, and suspect most people in the NY-22 want a representative that is at least honest enough to do what they say and pick a side on the issues. You can’t back up someone that doesn’t pick a side.

  9. Michael Vasquez

    In addition, backing up someone just because of their political party is no different than backing them just because of their religion or skin color. That doesnt make them qualified or worthy of the position. My example of that is President Obama and Hillary Clinton. We deserve more than a person in elected office just because they are a Dem/Republican, White or Black, male or female.

  10. Michael Vasquez

    If Rep. Hanna decides to pick a side, and match his public words to his votes (which has not been the case in critical votes and amendments thus far) then I will re-evaluate my opinion of how he is living up to his obligation to represent the NY-22. But that is not the case today. That is my opinion. But the article is just facts. Jim, you and anyone, do not have to like them.

  11. Ronald Griffiths

    I agree we have a President that is ripping this country apart. Unfortunately, #RichardHanna continues to enable and embolden Obama. Hanna has had 3 terms, nothing has changed; now he must be changed. #Primary2016

  12. Jim O’Brien

    Michael, you proved my point. Your article and your response are bias. I don’t agree with every vote or proposition that Mr. Hanna has presented or voted for. I do respect the fact that, I believe, he does what he consciously believes is right. You can agree or disagree with me but that is my belief. I have never and will never allow gender or race enter into my opinion on anyone. I want the best possible representative offered. I believe that crossing the isle from time to time is inevitable. Our forefathers created a Democracy. I am a Republican and am to the right but not so far right that I reject everything the left has to offer. This is one problem we have in government today. Neither party is willing to give and YOUR President (cause he definitely is not mine) makes things worse. We need someone to bring this country together not rip it apart. Your choice is to be part of the norm or be part of the progressive.

  13. Ronald Griffiths

    Respectfully Jim, your argument is seriously flawed. Richard Hanna consistently breaks rank and unity with the Republican party on the important issues that we are debating as a country, and votes with Democrats. If Republican Party unity is going to happen, Richard Hanna is not the Congressman that is going to make it happen. He’s had his chance and failed. Change in representation is needed so we can unite the Republican party and advance a liberty and prosperity agenda, especially when, God willing, we’ll have a Republican President in 2016.

  14. Michael Vasquez

    Jim, first and I ask only for clarity, are you an American? Because you said “Your president” which implies you are not. Otherwise, am I to assume you mean that you think I am a Democrat? Which would be odd since I am a publicly known Conservative Republican. Thus the only other implication would be race, which is insulting to a host of people. Answer this and I will then answer the rest of your comment.

  15. From the share on the Tea Party Patriots Online page

    Consuelo Castañuela Helbling

    Lot of that secret meeting g stuff going gone …like Jarretto with the muslims.

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