Rep. Tom MacArthur, already facing criticism that he has been hiding from his constituents, hosted a closed-door event with Rep. Devin Nunes on Saturday in Toms River, N.J., where a reporter was kicked out before the congressmen spoke.
The event with Nunes, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and one of Trump’s most vociferous defenders in Congress, was an illustration of the New Jersey Republican’s self-imposed isolation since he last faced his constituents in a town hall meeting 17 months ago.
A reporter from a New Jersey political blog, Ocean County Politics, wrote that when he arrived, he was “immediately confronted” by Tom Bonfonti, the executive director of the Ocean County GOP and a former MacArthur campaign aide, and was forced to leave.
Democrats have criticized MacArthur for being unresponsive to his district while working on behalf of special interests.
Last month, MacArthur’s opponent, Andy Kim, a Democrat, held an event focused on “dark money” in politics downstairs from the congressman’s district office in Evesham. During the event, MacArthur’s staff roped off his office with a sign reading, “Consultations by appointment only.”
In May 2017, MacArthur’s constituents confronted him at a town hall over his leading role in passing the American Health Care Act, a bill to replace the Affordable Care Act through the House. The Atlantic’s report was headlined “A Republican Congressman Meets His Angry Constituency.”
He reportedly hasn’t held a town hall since.
MacArthur’s appearance with Nunes — whom Trump has called a “Great American Hero” for using his powerful position to push back on investigations into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia — was also noteworthy because MacArthur has criticized Trump over his deference to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
While shying from his constituents, MacArthur this year pushed that would accomplish a long-term goal of his former boss Maurice Greenberg, former chairman and CEO at AIG, where MacArthur served as an executive: gutting the New York law that was the basis for the state’s case against the insurance giant.
AIG and Greenberg’s current company, C.V. Starr, have all contributed thousands of dollars to MacArthur’s re-election campaign.
Last year, MacArthur also voted in favor of legislation to pare back the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law Congress passed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis in order to guard against another one.