Republican congressman Michael Fitzpatrick, who is currently running against Democrat Kevin Strouse to represent Pennsylvania’s 8th district, declined an invitation to attend a forum hosted by the Bucks County NAACP.
Fitzpatrick’s Campaign Manager, Sam Bolstein, told James McGinnis the Bucks County Courier-Times that they received “too little notice” to accept the invitation, yet email correspondence from the event organizers dated over six weeks ago proves otherwise.
According to a timeline compiled by the Strouse campaign, emails from August 13th indicated that the Congressman was potentially interested in participating in the October 7th forum. A September 5th follow-up email to both Fitzpatrick and Strouse formally invited them to participate, and the Strouse campaign immediately accepted a month in advance.
Fitzpatrick’s team, however, responded on September 15th that they had to decline due to too little advanced notice.
Bolstein cited the three debates between Strouse and Fitzpatrick scheduled for October 15th, 23rd and 24th as reason for Fitzpatrick’s decision not to attend any additional forums or debates.
The Strouse campaign, however, pointed out that both candidates attended a September 21st forum for the Congregation Tifereth-Israel on short notice.
Strouse’s team responded strongly, casting Rep. Fitzpatrick’s decision as cowardly, and accused him of being intimidated by his constituents.
“It’s disappointing and shameful that Fitzpatrick would ask his campaign coordinator to lie on his behalf to get him out of having to face the people who he is supposed to represent,” Strouse Campaign Manager, Brendan McPhillips said.
“Once elected, I will hold frequent, well-advertised, open town halls for my constituents to voice their concern,” Strouse stated. “This is simply a fundamental job of a Congressman, and it’s shameful that my opponent thinks he can ignore his constituents.”
Bolstein responded with the following statement to PoliticsPA:
“After discussing with the traditional hosts throughout the district earlier this summer, our campaign sent a letter in July 2014 to our opponent’s campaign outlining the debates. No Strouse campaign representative brought forth additional debates at that time. We moved forward to confirm the debates to ensure that voters will hear a discussion of the issues.”
“To our knowledge, Mike Fitzpatrick is the only Member of Congress in Pennsylvania participating in three public debates, which were finalized long before other organizations approached our campaign later in the year. Per their request, earlier this week, I personally reached out to the Lin-Park Civic Association to see if we can find a time that works for both the Congressman and their organization to meet.”