A New Jersey GOP lawmaker is reportedly halting traditional town hall meetings with voters because similar events around the country are being "hijacked" by outside groups hostile to President Donald Trump.
The Asbury Park Press reported Rep. Tom MacArthur instead held an hour-long phone-in to field questions from his constituents on Monday.
MacArthur announced his town hall schedule was on hold for now because he doesn't "want to be baited into having an event that some outside group can just make a spectacle out of," the newspaper reported.
During the phone-in, MacArthur alleged other House of Representative colleagues had their events disrupted as "hundreds of people have been bused in and have been organized and in some cases have even been paid to disrupt and to steal your voice."
"I think you have to realize what’s going on all over the country," he said, the newspaper reported. "Public town hall events are being hijacked by groups that are outside of the district that [the] member represents. You’ve seen them on TV.’"
MacArthur didn’t offer evidence that protesters have been paid; his spokeswoman said the lawmaker "was simply referring to reports that he had read about outside groups attending congressional town halls.'"
"There is no doubt that special interest groups have been hijacking these forums with the intent to completely disrupt productive events and preventing local constituents from interacting with their congressman,'' spokeswoman Camille Gallo told the Asbury Park Press.
Last week Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, faced sharp questions and fierce pushback from a crowd of 1,000, and has also accused the protesters of being paid operatives.
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