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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

Press Release: What is Rep Richard Hanna hiding from voters?

On November 21, 2013, Michael Vasquez was interviewed on 100.7FM WUTQ. In that interview a discussion of the voting record of Rep. Richard Hanna was discussed. The emphasis of this discussion was on the discrepancies between what Rep. Hanna has said and/or written publicly and what his actual votes/actions were.

After the interview, at approximately 8am, a review of our records on the proof of the reported and recorded instances of flip flops by Rep. Hanna was conducted. This effort was part of our full disclosure on the claims made by Mr. Vasquez during the interview. That disclosure can be found at http://electmichaelvasquez.com/blog/2013/11/21/preview-of-100-7fm-wutq-interview-on-talk-of-the-town-with-mark-piersma/

During the review, it was discovered that at least one instance of altering the record exists.

  • On 7/24/13, Rep. Richard Hanna voted on H Amend 413 (Amash Amendment) – Rep. Hanna voted NO, against the proposal to restrict the NSA’s powers.
  • On 7/25/13, Rep. Hanna wrote on his congressional webpage (http://hanna.house.gov/vote-explanations1/showallitems/) about his vote on HR 2397 – Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2014. In this summary of his vote, Rep. Hanna included the following (visible at 8:30am that morning)

    “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.”

    This statement by Rep. Hanna is opposed by the facts of the actual vote on the Amash Amendment on 7/24. Mr. Vasquez wrote about this conflict on 7/25.

  • On 11/21/13 it was discovered that all information for HR 2397, and the statement about the NSA vote, has been removed from the congressional webpage for Rep. Hanna. This would appear to be an attempt to retroactively prevent voters from accurately evaluating Rep. Hanna, and evading the correct conclusion that he had flip flop on this issue. There may also be other incidents of this nature, which we are reviewing.

    Mr. Vasquez states,

    “If this is a technical error, which would be highly suspect, then it should be corrected immediately. If it is something else, Rep. Hanna should own up to it and provide the voters with the truth of his record and statements. Either way, this should not be overlooked as the elimination can be taken as more manipulative than the flip flop itself.”

    If members of the press seek further comment on this or any item, please contact: Press@ElectMichaelVasquez.com or 6072429247.

    ***Update 4/4/2014 – 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.***

  • 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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