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Rep. Hanna’s 2013 report card – a more realistic review

At the end of 2013 my opponent for the NY 22nd Congressional district, the incumbent Rep. Richard Hanna, released a summary of his efforts in Congress as a show of his dedication to the concerns of constituents. It’s a great gesture, but if looked at in context it is just a gesture.

Let me explain.

In the middle of page 3, right after the table of contents, a “snapshot of 2013 by-the-numbers” is presented. In the very first item, my point is made explicitly clear –

174 public Vote Explanations posted on Facebook, Twitter and Hanna.House.Gov

This is a lie, and I dare Rep. Hanna to sue me because I’m right. The total is 175. Because Rep. Hanna removed one of his public statements. Specifically How I voted on HR 2397 – which now comes up with a 404 error if you search for it.

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY 22)

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY 22)

Why is it missing and unaccounted for? Because in that article, published at 8:30 AM on July 25th, Rep. Hanna stated that he voted to protect the public from the abuses of the NSA. That statement flies in the face of his actual vote on July 24th – against the Amash Amendment which would have protected the public from NSA abuses.

Thus, since the full unedited original article has yet to be placed back into the record, I am led to believe Rep. Hanna is actively hiding his record from the public on an issue constituents are very concerned about. A record that isn’t always in the interest, or even good faith, of what the people he was elected to represent wanted and believe, I am led to conclude.

I say this directly, Rep. Hanna, if a word of what I have just said is untrue – sue me and I will exit the race for Congress.

You can decide for yourself what you make of this shell-game with the facts. But moving on.

On page 3, and elsewhere in the document, Rep. Hanna takes great pains to highlight the 9 Bills and resolutions he sponsored, as well as the 216 he co-sponsored. What my opponent fails to note, and hopes voters won’t notice, is what he does not include in the snapshot or the document… the number of Bills and/or Resolutions he had pass in the House of Representatives, let alone become law. An omission based on the failure to actually succeed since being elected in 2010.

My opponent paints a happy picture of the status on HR 2310 – a Bill that would provide headstones for Reservists that have died in combat for this nation. A Bill that is frozen in Congress and will likely never become law. Even though the cost is negligible, it is a bi-partisan issue, it is supported by veterans and the public, and there are 89 current members of Congress that are former military that would never dare vote against this Bill. Oh, and only 5 members of Congress, that are former military, support this Bill.

Which brings up the question of why? Has my opponent presented this to them? If not he is being inefficient, if he has then he is ineffective for the reasons why this Bill has universal appeal already stated.

There are other such examples, like H Res 134 (condemning North Korea) and H Res 190 (condemning the Boston Marathon bombing), each of which failed to garner support though there is universal bipartisan support for the issues addressed. Again, were these resolutions with less than 10% support framed a successes because the question of effectiveness and efficiency would be asked – and a shrewd politician obfuscates any question that might cause them to lose votes, no matter how true?

On page 4 of the report card, my opponent then makes this statement

“It is clear that in many ways Washington is broken as 2013 draws to a close. I am pleased to report that your office is not.”

Inefficiency, ineffectiveness, lack of representation of the voters and public in the 22nd District are not examples of a broken elected “office”, I agree. But it is a clear indicator, in my opinion, of one that is perhaps inept. It is an example of something that needs to be corrected, as Government is broken because too many in Congress are very good politicians just like Rep. Hanna seems to be.

You may disagree, but I will press on yet again.

The report card on my opponent then goes through several pages of his biography, the mission his elected office has in Congress (working for the people – not representing them, which is not the same thing by far), a nice picture of the NY 22nd District, and the multiple Committees that my opponent sat on in one of the least trusted and approved Congresses in the history of Congress. In fact 2013 was one of the least functional Congresses ever. Which calls to question how much value sitting on multiple sub-Committees matters when the entire Congress is failing to get anything substantial done.

But I digress. Thus, eventually, the report card gets back to the point of what was actually done.

The first thing it highlights is transparency and accountability. To this it restates the factually incorrect 174 disclosures. It is amazing how in a single figure my opponent, calls into question the transparency he presents to the public and simultaneously fails to be accountable to that same public – all at the same time.

My opponent then takes pride in being ranked as one of the most Liberal Republicans in Congress in 2013. That can be also stated as one of the most Conservative Democrats, or the most Moderate, or as he states “most independent Republican” – they are all equivalent terms I believe. But independent sounds far better than what some might call an elected official that actively tries to grow the opposition Party (as Rep. Hanna did when he told women voters to join the Democrat Party).

He then pats himself on the back for job creation awards (while there are over 20 million Americans still underemployed and the participation rate is at a low of 63%), lauds himself for his NRA rating (though he failed to show up at Remington Arms when President Obama was placing gun manufacturers under siege at the beginning of 2013, though he did months after the gun restriction debate had died down), and then hypes himself on his work with STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math] jobs.

Let me pause there. My opponent, the incumbent Congressman, wants to be praised for trying to pass HR 2131 – the SKILLS Visa Act – that would give 160,000 STEM jobs to foreign immigrants instead of American workers. I’ve talked to a lot of people in the NY-22, and I don’t know any who have said they support that.

Rep Hanna then moves on to talking about how many people he responded to in 2013. The numbers sound impressive, until compared to the number of people in the NY-22 (over 700,000). Plus the number seems a bit vague. How many people sent letters and request to Rep. Hanna? What is the percentage of responses? It’s not quibbling when you consider that I have talked to dozens of people who state that Rep. Hanna never responded to a single letter or request they made. Even more important to me considering that I still have not gotten any form of response from a single letter that I wrote to Rep. Hanna since 2012 – even to this day his office has not responded to me or my media company, ever. How may others received the same disregard – 100? 10,000? 100,000? My opponent avoids saying.

Finally, on page 12, my opponent notes what he actually did in Congress in 2013. He presents just 1 Bill passed, for baseball coins. But he gives equal billing, in great wording, to HR 2310, H Res 134, and H Res 190. He makes it seem like getting less than 10% support on universal, bipartisan, unopposed items is success – and perhaps in a Congress with an approval rating of 8% it is. But I tend to think the public expects more. From Congress, their Representative, and Government in general.

On page 14 my opponent starts to name all the great causes he supports. He leaves out the fact that he doesn’t mind making “symbolic votes”, as he has admitted and is available to be seen on a Youtube video of an interview he did. He leaves out his apparent rejection of Republican women. He avoids his flip-flop on late-term abortions. He all but forgets his inability to take a side about Syria. He completely disregards his multiple flip-flops on immigration, and his apparent preference (finally) to support reforms on immigration that 9 out of 10 residents of the NY 22nd Congressional District that I have spoken to do not support. He even glosses over the fact that his sudden defense of truck drivers comes more than a year after the rules were changed and several months after the rules went into effect (even though the trucking industry has been fighting this issue since 2012 amid my opponents silence on the issue).

By page 21, my opponent resorts to taking a bow for the pork-spending that endears Congress to some, and has guaranteed re-election to more than a few politicians that have been in office so long they seem to believe themselves to be a nobility (I offer the examples of Sen. Harry Reid, and Sen. Schumer, but there are dozens of others).

Of course the numbers are spread out so as to hide the very apparent bias to the northern end of the NY-22. The Southern Tier received $5 million in funds (Broome and Tioga Counties), Central NY – the middle of the District – received $6 million (Cortland and Chenango), with the north (Oswego, Herkimer, Oneida, and Madison) getting $9 million. If you take out flood relief for Central NY and the Southern Tier, which had little to do with the Congressman, the difference in actions becomes vastly apparent (almost 2-1 bias toward the northern end of the district).

My opponent of course makes room to note the obligatory shaking hands and kissing babies that is part and parcel of all politicians. 2 pages for that. My opponent then goes on to highlight 2 pages of highly selective quotes from cherry-picked news items to finish the report card.

I imagine every student in any educational institution envies the ability of Rep. Richard Hanna, like President Obama, to create their own report card and grading system.

With all honesty I cannot say that my opponent was a complete failure in 2013. He did accomplish some goals that constituents wanted. There were some issues that he could do nothing about (though he could have said far more in my opinion – like Syria, abuse of Executive Orders, overreach of the NSA and IRS, ect). But that does not excuse or even equal the things that he did have control over and failed on.

If we were to be fair, and I am trying my best to be objective though he is my opponent, a true grade of the overall performance in 2013 would be a D+. Transparency and Accountability would be an F-. Effectiveness would be a D+. Efficiency would be a D+. Consistency would be a F-. Leadership would be a D. Responsiveness (to the political ramifications) would be a shining star with a C. Deficit spending would be a B-. Flip-flopping would be an A+.

At the end of the day what will this all mean? That is for voters to decide. But I believe, if voters look at the whole picture – at what is being omitted and hidden, what was done and what was calculated for political gain, what has been done in the name of the NY-22 that fails to reflect the views of the people of the NY-22 – then I believe 2014 will see my opponent, Rep. Hanna, fail to graduate.

Sincerely

Michael Vasquez

Are all Republicans the same?

If you want an honest answer to the headline, read all of this.

In the news item done by YNN on December 2, 2013, the candidates for the New York 22nd Congressional District (including myself) were painted with a broad and eerily similar brush. The depiction was one that seemed to imply that there is no difference between Rep. Richard Hanna, myself, or any other Republican. Which is silly.

The implication, which may have been unintentional, is like saying that there is no difference between Gov. Chris Christie, Rep. Rand Paul and President G. W. Bush. Or put another way, President Jimmy Carter, President Bill Clinton, President Barack Obama and President John F. Kennedy were the exact same Democrat. It’s preposterous at every level.

But the brush can be painted on any number of candidates and incumbents of the same political party. Many of the same beliefs will of course be a common thread. Many of the same issues will of course be part of the platform (a question that I can directly state was never asked of me in the YNN interview). The question for voters is not what is the same, but what is the difference – unless there is a purpose to blur what is being presented. But that is a question for another day, and very unclear.

What makes a candidate different is their experience, their convictions, and what they believe is their motivation for elected office, in my opinion.

Representative Richard Hanna presents himself as a staunch Conservative and Republican. That’s what he ran on in 2010, and helped him get elected in a wave of Tea Party support and Conservatism. But he himself has said, in 2010 to Time Magazine and in other media since (National journal rankings for one), that he is not a Conservative but a Moderate.

Rep. Hanna is firm in his opposition of Obamacare, except he has clearly stated in a little viewed interview on Youtube (Minute 1:10 – 1:58) that his votes are merely symbolic. Worse yet, when faced with standing by the conviction of his votes Rep. Hanna folded,

Hanna was one of two Republicans who voted against delaying Obamacare…”

“Only two Republicans, both from New York — Reps. Chris Gibson and Richard Hanna —broke ranks with their party to oppose the one-year delay in Obamacare. Both had backed the previous government funding bill defunding Obamacare entirely.”

Something numerous news media noted immediately.

Rep. Hanna believes, apparently, that drones are essential to domestic security. Yet he is willing to invite abuse by not seeking to restrict the way they will be used, which is essentially selling the 4th Amendment for a literal handful of jobs as I see it.

Rep. Hanna is more than willing to sit on the sidelines, without opinion in the face of clearly expressed opinion from constituents, the nation, and in some cases the globe – as he did as President Obama sought to take unilateral action in Syria (against the will of the public, much of Congress, and even international allies).

This is the Republican that I am running against in the 2014 New York election. And there is very little that is similar.

I am a fiscal Conservative because I believe that a Government should be, at the least, as careful with its spending as the people it represents. I am Conservative because I believe that the Constitution and Amendments are not just a list of ideals, but guidelines to preserve freedoms in a way that no other nation as done. I am a Republican because I believe that the ingenuity and innovation of individuals always surpasses that of Government, and advances the world. I believe these things strongly enough to have served my country in military service, and to speak out in commentary for the world to see and discuss.

I oppose Obamacare, not because of symbolism meant to build up political credibility or a vague love of the healthcare system that proceeded it. I oppose the fact that is established a power of Government over the people – which I see as a long-term danger to the nation. I oppose the ACA because if fails in its primary objective to lower healthcare costs. I object to the Health Care Reform because the unintended (and apparently well known among Democrats) consequences are numerous, and to be expected from a partisan law that barely had the ink dry before it was passed. And I’ve been saying this since 2009, publicly. Just do a Google search.

I fear abuses of power, like drones without laws limiting use against average citizens, or invasion of privacy by the NSA, or even sidestepping Congress by a President that believes Executive Orders are a perfect means to ram his ideology down the throats of Americans that disagree. I support Bills like the Amash Amendment (that Rep. Hanna voted against) that the public agrees with and protects our Rights. I stand, vocally, in opposition to those that would sell our Rights (on the cheap no less) and our citizenship piece by piece under a banner of universal benefits that never come to pass and are never needed anyway.

I defend the freedoms of Americans to bear arms, and speak freely – even if I disagree with what is being said and even when the criminal and insane misuse such Rights. To limit what is said is to cage a mind. To weaken protection (even from the Government itself) is to invite attack. I defend these and other issues with a knowledge of what is being discussed, the ramifications of the decisions, and an understanding of what the public actually values.

I hold my positions as I have for years, as is documented and readily available. Not without an ear to hear other options, nor without the willingness to debate pros and cons in an effort to reach the best solution. I have no delusion of grandeur, nor do I believe any 1 person is so wise as to have all the solutions to all problems. But I have the passion and strength of my convictions to face opposition with facts and logic on issues that matter and have mattered over the years, without bending to and fro because of a misplaced desire to maintain a political advantage.

Long before I felt the need to represent the many people of the NY-22, long before the political landscape required a clear, decisive, consistent representative (or several dozen) I believed these things. Don’t take my word for it, see my Youtube videos, my speeches, my political commentary. You won’t agree with it all, but then again you shouldn’t. Because the politician that everyone agrees with is most likely the same politician lying to everyone.

Don’t be fooled though. I am not they media driven image of what a Republican is supposed to be. The image of an old, White male that hates gays, immigrants, and non-Christians. An image of intolerance fueled by greed and avarice. That’s not a Republican, or a Conservative. That’s not any political party of worth in America. That’s just a great way to sell newspapers and get eyeballs on TV.

I am a Black Puerto Rican, 45 years old. I am a Conservative, a Republican, a small business owner, a homeowner. I am a brother and uncle. I am a son. I am most of all an American. I cannot be boxed into a forgettable category, or mashed into some mass of made up media hype.

This is not a 30 second soundbite, nor is it the limit of what I stand for but the beginning. My platform may sound familiar, but that’s only because it is not being addressed and most Americans think it should be. I am running for the 22nd Congressional District because I want to make an effective difference, and the nation as well as the NY-22 are in desperate need of people in Congress that want to be effective and not just in office.

If you have read this far, and you see the worth in what I am saying, share this. Because we have enough cookie-cutter politicians that are all painted with the same brush. The approval rating for Congress reflects how effective that is. Time for someone else, and all I ask is for voters and the public, to hear me out and then make their choice.

Sincerely

Michael Vasquez

Twitter post from July 2013 – @electvasquezny

The following can be found on my Twitter account (@electvasquezny – ask to be added to be up to date daily) from the month of June 2013:

There are issues and events from day to day that there is just not enough time to expand on, or are complete in just a short message. Twitter is an excellent format to provide and share comments and thoughts of this nature. But not everyone is on Twitter. Thus, from time to time, this blog will provide several of these commentaries and musings.

15 Jul ‏@electvasquezny

Share this with friends, family, and anyone interested in a Congress that earns more than a 15% approval… http://youtu.be/LqbX1pqSFkk?a

Do you know the difference between Congress and a casino? http://youtu.be/pdPr0UY9CJE?a

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16 Jul @electsqueznvay

When was the last time you heard a politician mention cutting corporate taxes? http://youtu.be/-C_JFhEtW48?a

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21 Jul @electvasquezny

I want to thank everyone that supported “Rock the House” fundraiser yesterday. A donation of $125 is being made to Wounded Warrior Project.

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22 Jul @electvasquezny

While President Obama urges more of the same, a real solution stays on the backburner http://wp.me/p3tK3D-1q

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25 Jul @electvasquezny

Rep Hanna voted for Amash Amendment – well not quite. http://wp.me/p3tK3D-1u

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29 Jul @electvasquezny

AP reports 15% in poverty (46 million), 79% economically insecure. But “jobs are priority one”. Perhaps time for a responsive government

CNN Political Ticker http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2013/07/29/will-your-congressman-retire-richer-than-you/?sr=sharebar_twitter … this is really not the way it should be. Especially w/o debt, unemployment solutions.

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30 Jul @electvasquezny

Pfc Manning deserves all 150 years of prison.

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31 Jul electvasquezny

@WSJ could.this be one of the sources behind the anti-fracking movement?

Sen Wyden, 7/30, says problems with NSA compliance worse than reported. Yet Rep Hanna voted against Amash Amendment. How is public served?

Are 12 (or even 54) defeated terror plots, as claimed so far, equal to 4th Amendment rights of 300 million Americans? Sold too cheap maybe?

Is the Internet the end of political waffling? Not quite

Long ago politicians earned the moniker of being 2-faced and envisioned as “oil can Harry’s”. But in the age of the Internet, where the public has almost instantaneous access to voting records, video of speeches, and transcripts of campaign pledges one might assume modern politicians would be more straightforward. You may recall what happens when you assume.

Case in point, Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY22). In just the last few months he has either supported both sides of an issue and/or directly reversed his position or ignored constituent concerns. This justification of his ranking as the 5th most moderate Republican member of Congress [Bipartisan Policy Center - July 2012], though he ran in 2010 as a Tea Party conservative, has been achieved through careful wordplay and the assumption that voters aren’t paying attention to the details, in my opinion.

Here are some facts:

March 2013 -

  • The Drone Caucus (which Rep Hanna is a member) fails to mention legislation protecting 4th Amendment Rights in its 5 mission statements – http://unmannedsystemscaucus.mckeon.house.gov/about/purpose-mission-goals.shtml
  • 25th – Rep Hanna is pushing to get Unmanned Aerial Systems in sky by 2015 to promote job growth – http://wrvo.org/post/hanna-optimistic-upstate-new-york-will-land-drone-test-site

    April 2013

  • 24th – Rep Hanna skips Joint Economic Committee meeting on solutions to long-term unemployment – http://www.nationaljournal.com/congress/the-poorly-attended-hearing-on-one-of-the-economy-s-toughest-problems-20130424
  • 24th – Rep Hanna publishes article promoting immigration reform to provide visas to foreign workers to gain STEM jobs – http://www.politico.com/story/2013/04/science-technology-engineering-math-education-immigration-90517.html

    May 2013 -

  • 10th – Rep Hanna raises concern about impact of immigration reform on the unemployed seeking a job – http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/05/10/heres-the-economic-advice-congress-is-getting-on-immigration/
  • 16th – CBS News reports 32 States considering legislation to limit drone use, 4 other have passed laws (not New York), Rep Hanna makes no comment – http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57584695/lawmakers-move-to-limit-domestic-drones/

    June 2013

  • 18th – H.R 1917 receives NO vote from Rep Hanna, who is on record as against late-term abortions. H.R. 1917 would deny abortions as late as 20 weeks unless the life of the mother is at risk – http://hanna.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3536&Itemid=

    July 2013

  • 24th – H Amnd 413, the Amash Amendment to restrict NSA from blanket gathering of phone and internet domestic data of general public, was voted on – Rep Hanna voted NO – http://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/113-2013/h412
  • 25th – H.R. 2397, Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2014, passed. Rep Hanna, in discussing his vote YEA, states he also voted for restricting NSA – http://hanna.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3557&Itemid=

    4th Amendment, abortion, immigration, and jobs all in just the first half of 2013. Plus pushing for technology to invade privacy without regulation and taking credit for a vote on an issue popular with the public that didn’t happen – a full roster of questionable actions. No matter what position a voter may have on these issues, Rep Hanna appears to have covered every base without actually taking a position that might endanger re-election hopes one may infer.

    The question should be asked if the lack of political fortitude stems from a lack of connection to constituents and their concerns on these issues? Is it shrewd political calculations to help fend off 2014 election challengers? Or is it a lack of understanding of the ramifications for the issues and legislation at hand?

    With all the advantages that modern technology affords it is still difficult enough for a voter to understand 2000+ page laws, secret courts, new technologies that are unaddressed by current law and so on. It is infinitely worse when elected politicians live up to the popular negative stereotypes that contribute to a 75% DISSAPROVAL rating of Congress.

  • Rep Hanna voted for Amash Amendment – well not quite.

    On July 24th, the House of Representatives voted on H. Amdt 413 – otherwise known as the Amash Amendment. Created by Republican Justin Amash of the 3rd Michigan District, the purpose of the legislation was

    “The Amash-Conyers amendment ends NSA’s blanket collection of Americans’ telephone records. It does this by requiring the FISA court under Sec. 215 to order the production of records that pertain only to a person under investigation…

    The amendment does not restrict the types of records that the government can collect under Sec. 215…The amendment simply requires that there be a reasonable connection between the documents sought and the person under investigation…

    The amendment does not take away a tool that has proved effective in the fight against terrorism.”

    The vote on July 24th ended up 217 against (134 Republicans, 83 Democrats) to 205 for (94 Republicans, 111 Democrats). In New York State, my home State, the vote was 1 Republican (Rep. Christopher Gibson of the NY-19) and 11 Democrats for the Amash Amendment, 5 Republicans and 9 Democrats against the Amendment. 1 Democrat, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy did not vote at all.

    While you may or may not be upset by the voting results, this article is about something far different. Something that I find even more important.

    Rep Richard Hanna on July 25, 2013, by 8:30AM when I found it, explained why he voted for the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2014. In that statement on H.R. 2397 is the following:

    “Finally, I supported an amendment that ensures the National Security Agency (NSA) may not target a U.S. person or acquire and store the content of a U.S. person’s communications, including phone calls and e-mails. I will continue to support Constitutionally-protected civil liberties and the right to privacy for all American citizens.”

    Reread that. Rep. Hanna voted AGAINST the Amash Amendment. He factually voted the exact opposite of what he is telling constituents he did!

    Regardless of where you may stand on the Amash Amendment, or even your political preference, I believe all Americans can agree that a member of Congress should always be clear and honest on how they voted. In 2013 alone, on immigration, late-term abortion, and now the NSA, Rep. Hanna needs to be held accountable.

    Did Rep. Hanna think no one would notice?

    ***Update 4/4/2014 – Rep. Hanna removed the above referenced article prior to 11/21/13. He allowed the article to remain absent from the public record, for unknown reasons, until at some point after February 2014 (the last time that I had checked) Rep. Richard Hanna finally put back the article referenced above. I count that as a victory, as Rep. Hanna can once again be held accountable for what he has voted as opposed to what he has said to the public.***

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