Today several candidates and incumbents seeking election in the November mid-term elections gathered to speak to, and answer questions from, the Binghamton Chamber of Commerce. The featured speakers at the forum event were Rep. Mike Arcuri, Rep. Maurice Hinchey, George Phillips and Richard Hanna.
All 4 men were well prepared for the event, and generally were on the mark in terms of answering the questions given to them. We will have video coverage of the event shortly, but the thing that caught our attention was a back and forth between challenger George Phillips and incumbent Rep. Maurice Hinchey – both vying for the 22nd Congressional District.
The issue was the Health Care Reform, which Rep. Maurice Hinchey voted for. The big question was if Rep. Hinchey ever attended a town hall meeting about the Health Care Reform. George Phillips said Hinchey never held 1 town hall, Rep. Hinchey said he attended several “meetings”.
This begged for a fact check. So we sought out to do just that.
Immediately after the event ended, we approached Rep. Hinchey, who was engaged with a discussion with a reporter from the Washington Times. We waited, ignored once again by Mike Morosi of Rep. Hinchey’s staff. But we were able to get the attention of Dan Lamb, also a staff member of Rep. Hinchey and who spoke on behalf of Hinchey at the Vestal Public Library forum 2 weeks ago.
We asked Mr. Lamb, “do you have the dates for the meetings?”
Mr. Lamb, “I’m not sure what you mean.”
Mr. Vass, “Rep. Hinchey stated that he did attend town hall meetings on the Health Care Reform, and I would just like to have the dates.”
Mr. Lamb, ” I know what your trying to do.”
Mr. Vass, “Rep. Hinchey just made a public statement and I would like to have the dates to go with that.”
Mr. Lamb, “You’ll have to contact the campaign office.”
With that Mr. Lamb walked away to Mr. Morosi and Rep. Hinchey. For the remainder of the time at Traditions at the Glenn, either Mr. Morosi or Mr. Lamb were between us and Rep. Hinchey – though we did not try to force our way to the Representative. The question remained unanswered.
We later contacted Rep. Hinchey’s office, not the campaign as this was an action done on a matter of his official work as a Congressman, to request the dates mentioned. After an intial response by whomever answered the phone that the information would take just a moment, we were connected to a woman who identified herself as [name withheld].
This staffer requested to know who we were and why we wanted the information. After identifying ourselves, she directed us to speak with Rep. Hinchey’s press secretary. We noted that we were told to call for the information by Dan Lamb, which led to our being told that we still would need to speak to the press secretary and that as a member of the press we could not otherwise get the information.
We stated that the dates would be public record as this was official duties of the Congressman. We were told to try Google, asked for our contact information (which Mr. Morosi and other staff do have), and told that an attempt to get the information would be made once there was more time to try to research the dates.
As of this writing, we have not received the information, though our call was made late in the day. We will be happy to update this article if and when we receive any response.
Thus we were forced to seek out Google.
Searching, Rep. Maurice Hinchey Health Care Reform town hall, we found 527,000 results. In checking the first 7 pages we found an undated meeting with the Greenman Senior Center in Binghamton on April 14th that Rep. Hinchey was invited to. No statement if he showed, or what was spoken about.
We found an Aug 8, 2009 article by Chris McKenna of the Times Herald-Record, stating that Rep. Hinchey was not holding ANY town hall meetings, instead speaking to hospital executives and constituents 1 on 1. Plus tracking call, letters, and email.
Note – Rep. Hinchey did not respond to any of our letters and email sent to him in that general timeframe, as stated in articles at the time.
There was an article, dated Aug. 3, 2009 – announcing the last minute note that Rep. Hinchey was to be at the James O’Neill high school auditorium. No indication if he did arrive, or what he spoke about. Though the article from Mr. McKenna 5 days later seems to present that he did not attend.
We then searched the first 7 Google results (out of 625,000) for Rep. Maurice Hinchey town hall. The result was an August 6, 2009 series of photos showing Rep. Hinchey at AFGE local 2367. The photos made no reference to if Rep. Hinchey spoke or if so, what about. Again the McKenna article seems to dispute a discussion on the matter in question.
We do note that there were 4 meetings that did show up in our searches that were for April and May or later in 2010. These meetings do not count as they were AFTER the passage of the Health Care Reform, and the question was about the lack of response to constituents BEFORE the Bill was passed.
Thus, at this moment we must ask Representative Maurice Hinchey, what town hall meetings did he attend about the Health Care Reform before it was passed?
At best we can only say that Rep. Maurice Hinchey was scheduled to attend 1 town hall, and appeared at 1 event that Chris McKenna of the Times Herald-Record did not find to be related to the Health Care Reform debate.
It would appear, as Politifact would say, that this is a pants-on-fire statement. It is further complicated by the fact that Rep. Hinchey’s staff seem to make every effort not to divulge an answer as of yet.
But we will be happy to correct the record if evidence can be provided that such a conclusion is wrong. Until then, why is Rep. Maurice Hinchey deceiving constituents?
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