Registar-Star: Democratic congressman to explain GOP health care bill to Faso constituents

KINGSTON — When U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-19, opted not to attend a town hall to answer questions about health care, a congressman from a neighboring district decided to attend in his place.

U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, a Democrat who represents southwestern Dutchess, eastern Westchester, Orange and Putnam counties, traveled north to Kingston on Monday to hear constituents’ concerns about the American Health Care Act of 2017, which was passed by the House of Representatives last week.

He temporarily took the place of Faso who voted on Thursday in favor of the GOP bill to repeal and replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

Via Twitter, Maloney said Thursday that he had received a barrage of phone calls from people who were unable to reach Faso or his representatives at his district and Washington D.C. offices. In a recent interview on "The Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC, Maloney called on his fellow democratic congressmen to "adopt" districts where Republican congressional representatives decline to hold town halls.

Although 217 Republicans voted in favor of the bill, only a handful is scheduled to hold public town halls, according to The Washington Post.

"I’m headed to Kingston Monday night to do @RepJohnFaso’s town hall meeting. If he won’t do it, I will. Join me? #AdoptADistrict," Maloney wrote in a tweet on Twitter.

Since taking office in January, Faso has not held a town hall in the district. Instead, he has opted to meet in smaller groups and talk to constituents by telephone.

But Faso’s office is claiming Maloney’s move is a political one. Faso did not receive an invitation for the event and had a scheduling conflict, spokeswoman Courtney Weaver said in an email on Monday.

"This is a purely partisan political rally," Weaver said. "Just two weeks ago at the Pattern for Progress event at Marist College, both Faso and Maloney pledged bipartisan cooperation on issues of concern affecting their districts. Now Maloney has reverted to form as a hyper-partisan seeking to advance himself in the eyes of his patrons in Albany and Washington. It’s sad."

Maloney’s office did not respond to a request for comment on Monday before the town hall.

Dustin Reidy, an organizer with Indivisible NY 19, an activist group from the 19th Congressional District, said Faso was invited to the town hall via Twitter around 2 p.m. Friday.

"The congressman promised to hold an open town hall and he has refused," Reidy said. "(Faso) will not be coming to this and he owes his constituents answers, but he refuses to speak to them in a public town hall."

At 5 p.m. on Friday, Maloney responded to the group via twitter, offering to attend if Faso declined.

Erin Stamper, of Chatham, is one of the organizers of the town hall. She said she has not been able to reach Faso on the phone and has been unable to leave a voicemail at his offices.

"They are missing a huge swath of people that aren’t able to get a hold of anyone in any one of his offices," she said.

Maloney and Faso’s statements come two weeks after both pledged bipartisan support in a forum called "Across the Aisle" at Marist College in the town of Poughkeepsie.