Several House Democrats in battleground districts complained Thursday that a political stunt by Republicans intended to warn them they would not be in office long because of impeachment instead ended up wasting the time of Capitol Police after aides complained of receiving suspicious packages.
The National Republican Congressional Committee sent packing boxes to the Capitol Hill offices of the Democrats, most of whom flipped Republican districts in 2018 and are expected to have competitive campaigns to keep them next year.
Some congressional staffers, despite seeing they were from the NRCC, were still wary of the packages and contacted police, as they are trained to do with suspicious packages.
The NRCC, responding to a Huffington Post reporter’s tweet of an NRCC package at Lamb’s office, tweeted: “We know Democrats love investigations but why are they looking a gift horse in the mouth? These boxes will be useful next November!”
We know Democrats love investigations but why are they looking a gift horse in the mouth? These boxes will be useful next November! https://t.co/LJcjF9D8KR— NRCC (@NRCC) October 31, 2019
The stunt was supposed to warn the Democrats of the blowback the NRCC expects them to face for voting mostly along partisan lines Thursday to proceed further into a formal impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump.
Reps. Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey were the only Democrats who voted against the measure. Michigan Independent Justin Amash voted with the Democrats; no Republicans voted for it.
Wexton called it “irresponsible” and “reckless” for the NRCC, the campaign arm of the GOP conference, “to leave suspicious packages for Members of Congress.”
I cannot figure out why anyone would think it's funny to leave suspicious packages for Members of Congress.Thank you to the Capitol Police for keeping us safe, and sorry your time was wasted on such an irresponsible and reckless stunt. https://t.co/Y6hF768Uaa — Jennifer Wext🎃n (@JenniferWexton) October 31, 2019
After an investigation by Capitol police, spokeswoman Eva Malecki said, “The incident has been cleared.”
Spanberger said the NRCC’s act was a waste of law enforcement’s resources.
I’d like to thank the Capitol Police for their professionalism in responding to the suspicious package left at our office today.The @nrcc pulled a ridiculous stunt, leaving suspicious packages across Capitol Hill and diverting and wasting law enforcement resources. https://t.co/AoYZopiAiR — Abigail Spanberger (@SpanbergerVA07) October 31, 2019
For 2020, Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates Wexton’s race as Solid Democratic, Lamb’s as Likely Democratic and Spanberger’s Tilt Democratic.
Katie Porter, a California Democrat, also criticized the NRCC for “sending suspicious-looking packages.”
The @nrcc really had a day today — wasting time trolling me for being a mom on Halloween and even worse — wasting time of our Capitol police by sending suspicious-looking packages. https://t.co/GmqTogdqs0— Katie Porter (@katieporteroc) October 31, 2019
The NRCC’s counterpart, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, offered to fill the boxes with food for a Thanksgiving charity drive in a statement that referred to NRCC staff being questioned by the Capitol Police.
“If and when Capitol Police releases the NRCC staff, please ask them to bring those boxes over to our building,” the DCCC said. “We’d be happy to use those boxes so that our staff can run a Thanksgiving food drive and turn your hilarious prank into a force for good.”
NRCC spokesman Bob Salera responded with the same comment that the committee earlier sent out on Twitter that the boxes will come in handy next November.
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