Opponents Blame Stefanik for Proxy Voting, Participating in Trump Fundraiser |
Upstate U.S. Representative Elise Stefanik was one of 108 House members who voted remotely by proxy last week as the highly contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus spreads rapidly across the country, but all voting by proxy, she spent her time away from the capital at a largely unmasked fundraiser with former President Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort on January 11.
In a letter to the House Clerk earlier today, Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, said she would not be able to physically attend the proceedings due to “the ongoing public health emergency “.
This drew condemnation from some of the Democrats who ran against her in the Nov. 8 election.
“Elise Stefanik outright lied when she claimed a public health emergency barred her from showing up for work, but then appeared at a political event with former President Trump at Mar-a-Lago that day there,” Matt Castelli, a Democrat running against Stefanik for New York’s 21st congressional seat, wrote in a statement. “On only the second day of the new session, she again chose to put her own party and political ambition ahead of her constituents, and then lied about it in an official letter to Congress.”
People also read…
Stefanik’s staff said the congresswoman was a hard worker and was back in Washington the following evening for a late-night vote.
“(Wednesday, she) was on the floor of the House voting from approximately 10:30 p.m. to midnight,” Stefanik’s senior adviser Alex deGrasse wrote in an email.
“For her to cite a global pandemic as the reason for her absence from work, but then go to Florida for a fundraiser for herself is just plain wrong,” Matt Putorti, another Democrat challenging Stefanik, wrote in a statement. .
Members of Congress are required to wear masks on the house floor.
DeGrasse pointed out that Democrats and Republicans used the “ongoing public health emergency” explanation for the proxy vote for reasons unrelated to the pandemic.
In October, New Jersey Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski voted by proxy on the debt ceiling at a fundraiser in California.
“The people of the North Country don’t care what a California congressman does,” Castelli replied in an email. “Elise Stefanik was elected by the voters of NY-21 to represent them in the House, not to lie to the Clerk of the House and her constituents about her reasons for not attending the proceedings in the House of the House so that can go to a fundraiser in Mar-a-Lago.
Trump eulogizes at fundraiser
During the fundraiser, Stefanik shook hands with the former president and he said that if she continues on the path she is on, he thinks she could take the seat he once held as Commander-in-Chief by 2028.
Stefanik became the House Republican Conference Speaker in May 2021, replacing Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney in the party’s third seat after Cheney was removed from office by the GOP for not being loyal to Trump.
“I want to congratulate Elise on her success. Dude, does she move fast. That means at this rate she’ll be president in about six years,” Trump said. “She’s always been a friend and people would say she’s upward mobile. She goes to Washington as a young, beautiful woman who’s taken over and all of a sudden she becomes a rocket ship. She is the boss. She was a great boss, a strong boss.
He himself has hinted at a run for his old seat again in 2024.
The event, Stefanik said, raised $3.2 million for GOP candidates across the country. It was attended by about 200 people who paid $1,000 each for a seat and about 30 people who paid $25,000.
Attendees took part in a “Fire Pelosi” panel discussion, Stefanik said, and had a photo op with Trump.
“One of her constituents’ top priorities is to fire Nancy Pelosi once and for all, and Congresswoman Stefanik is proud to be a leader in that effort when far-left Democrats are so desperate because, a once again they are going to be surprised, worked, outdone and lost in this neighborhood,” deGrasse wrote. just moved to the district from New York and Poughkeepsie.”
Stefanik invited New York Conservative Party Chairman Gerry Kassar to the event.
“It was definitely a New York crowd,” he told the New York Post.
Empire State residents included John Hendrickson, the owner of the historic 36,000-acre Whitney estate in Long Lake, who subdivided the property and put it up for sale; Liz Joy, a Republican candidate for New York’s 20th congressional district in Albany; and Nicholas Vaugh, a graduate of the Northwood School and Clarkson University living in Albany, who is now a lobbyist for the United States Chamber of Commerce.
Stefanik gave his proxy vote to Dan Meuser, a Republican representative from Pennsylvania. She told him how to vote and he voted for her.
“She will always work to ensure her district is represented at the highest levels, which is why she made sure the district has a vote,” deGrasse wrote.
There were three hearings on Tuesday — one on Capitol security after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack, one on a Navy investigation into drinking water contamination at one of its facilities. storage and another on cybersecurity.
NBC5 News reported that Stefanik was absent for two votes — both related to a bill to “expand eligibility for post-9/11 education aid GI Bill.” Another bill would “require the Department of Veterans Affairs to automatically enroll eligible veterans in health care.”
Proxy voting was introduced in May 2020 to allow Congress to vote safely during the pandemic, and since then lawmakers have made thousands of proxy appointments.
Stefanik opposed proxy voting at the time, saying the new rule was “a total kick on this critical issue to ensure Congress is able to legislate from a distance.”
She said the House should instead use virtual remote voting, which would allow representatives to vote from anywhere.
In June 2021, she signed a letter with 133 other Republicans calling for an end to proxy voting.
“Proxy voting remains in place, and elongated voting blocks hamper Congress’s ability to do the job effectively,” the letter said.
Stefanik has filed 14 proxy letters in the past year, according to the House Clerk.
Michael Goot covers politics, crime and courts, Warren County, education and business. Contact him at 518-742-3320 or [email protected]