By BILLY HUNTSMAN
Las Cruces Bulletin
In response to Thursday, Feb. 16’s protests outside his Las Cruces office, and in anticipation of a fake town hall meeting being put on by dissatisfied constituents on Feb. 24, New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District Rep. Steve Pearce (R) issued a statement addressing complaints of inaccessibility.
Indivisible is a national accountability advocacy group with 18 chapters in New Mexico. Truth or Consequences’ and Las Cruces’ chapters will host Feb. 24’s fake town hall meeting “to protest Pearce’s lack of accessibility during a time specifically set aside for Congresspeople to return home to listen to their constituents’ concerns,” said Diana Tittle, Indivisible – Truth or Consequences communications manager in a statement.
She was referring to Congress’ Recess Week, Feb. 18-25. Instead of coming back to New Mexico, Pearce held a telephone town hall meeting from his Washington, D.C., office on Wednesday of last week.
While more than 10,000 people participated in this conference, his Washington, D.C., office said, some participants said they were disconnected or not called to participate.
In response, many constituents—some members or supporters of Indivisible—protested outside Pearce’s Las Cruces office. Upon trying to get in, they found the door locked and their knocks unanswered.
“At that time, the office was being managed by one staff person, a caseworker, who was in the midst of helping a constituent that is a military veteran,” said Pearce’s press secretary, Keeley Christiensen, in a statement.
Because so few staff were in the office, Christiensen said, the front door was locked to enable the single staff person to focus on the constituent within, who had scheduled an appointment.
Staffing in the office was limited during this scheduled appointment, so in order to ensure the meeting was not interrupted and staff was able to pay full attention to the constituent, the front door was locked.
Explaining Pearce’s absence from the state during Congress’ Recess Week, Christiensen said, “Rep. Pearce is going to some of the most unstable parts of the world as part of his official obligation as chairman of the new House Financial Services Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance.”
Christiensen said Pearce has been traveling as part of a bipartisan U.S. delegation between a total of 10 countries. While she couldn’t say which these countries were because the trip is ongoing, she said the countries are located throughout Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
“The Terror and Illicit Finance Subcommittee is new to the 115th Congress with the scope of examining various methods of terror financing,” she said. “As the chairman, Rep. Pearce is responsible for building it from the ground up and these meetings are a part of it.”
Pearce was appointed the subcommittee’s chairman by Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling. The subcommittee was formed for the express purpose of finding the Islamic State’s, “the richest terror organization in human history,” said Pearce, sources of financing and cutting them off.
“Oil sales, sale of antiquities, kidnapping, and human trafficking make up the core funding base for ISIS,” Pearce said, going on to say, “I look forward to working with Chairman Hensarling and the members of the Financial Services Committee to ensure that Congress and President Trump have the tools they need to fully engage in the fight against terrorism and illicit financing.”
Christiensen said Pearce is aware of certain constituents’ dissatisfaction and said he will be back in New Mexico March 2.
Billy Huntsman can be reached at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or at @billy_huntsman on Twitter.