As reported by WNYC, a Republican congressman in March targeted an activist by writing a letter to the woman's employer accusing her of working against "economic growth" and "stronger national security”. The letter states, “But let’s be clear that there are organized forces — both national and local — who are already hard at work to put a stop to an agenda of limited government, economic growth, stronger national security”.
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) wrote in the letter, which is on his campaign stationery. The letter, which was asking for donations, included a handwritten note at the bottom reading: “P.S. One of the ringleaders works in your bank!” The ringleader referenced is Saily Avelenda. She served as a senior vice president at Lakeland Bank in Caldwell, N.J., before resigning. She has worked as an activist for a group called NJ 11th for Change, which has been urging Frelinghuysen to hold town halls and organizes protests outside of his office in New Jersey.
“I had to write a statement to my CEO, and at my level as an assistant general counsel and a senior vice president, at this employer it was not something that I expected,” Avelenda told WNYC. Saily says, “I thought my Congressman put them in a situation, and put me in a really bad situation as the constituent, and used his name, used his position and used his stationery to try to punish me.”
A lawyer told WNYC that the letter is likely not illegal, though it could pose a problem for the congressman politically. Frelinghuysen's campaign office in a statement called the note “a personal letter” and maintained that the congressman is not involved with the “bank’s business.”
The Campaign for Accountability filed a complaint with The Office of Congressional Ethics asking for a review of whether Frelinghuysen’s actions violated House rules.