State Rep. and Congressional candidate Justin Simmons (R-Lehigh) is calling for the resignation of Lehigh County GOP Chair Jess Banotai and the party’s Executive Director Trevor Waldron after Simmons released images of text messages between the two and others.
In the text messages, Banotai asks a group text that includes Waldron “how much do you think it would cost to get a billboard in Justin’s district and put that hitler youth photo of him on it?”
“We can make it happen,” Waldron responded.
In a separate screen grab, Banotai says they should use the Young Republican page to “troll” Simmons by sharing and liking state Rep. Ryan Mackenzie’s (R-Lehigh) announcements. Mackenzie announced his bid for the 15th district last week.
In the same grab, Banotai says that it is up to the Lehigh Valley Young Republican Chair to decide and she was “just making the suggestion.”
“This is exactly why Republican voters have zero faith in Republican Party establishment insiders like Banotai, Waldron, Dent, and Mackenzie,” Simmons said.
“Banotai and Waldron need to go immediately because they clearly are not interested in having a level playing field for the 15th Congressional district race.”
This is the second time in this race text messages have been released by campaigns. Prior to announcing his retirement, Congressman Charlie Dent’s (R-Lehigh) campaign released text messages between Dent and Simmons.
Update: Banotai responded to Simmons’ call, going on the offensive against the candidates assertions.
“Justin Simmons is a desperate candidate who is talking out of both sides of his mouth. He continues to try to mislead the Republican voters of the 15th District,” Banotai said in a statement.
Banotai turned her criticism to Northampton County Chair Gloria Lee Snover, who has publically supported Simmons.
“If Justin is so concerned at keeping any bias out of a potential Special Election, he must immediately call for Northampton County GOP Chairwoman Gloria Lee Snover to resign. Snover has repeatedly indicated in public speeches and on social media that Justin Simmons is her hand-picked candidate. I want to see Justin demand that the clearly-biased Snover — along with anyone else in her Executive Committee who has expressed support for Simmons publicly — immediately resign to keep the process fair. Until he does so, and until she does, he’s just grand-standing.”
“The rest of Justin’s statement is beneath contempt. For someone who says he’s not a career politician, Justin Simmons certainly has been acting like one. If Justin has a real desire to support the Republican Party in Lehigh County he would be doing what I’m doing — focusing on supporting and electing, strong Lehigh County Republican candidates in this year’s General Election.”
You can see the messages below.