#b#Activists Speak Out#/b#

U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), chair of the House Appropriations Committee, recently sent a fundraising letter to a board member of Lakeland Bank in which he identified “highly organized” protesters as a threat to his campaign. In a handwritten postscript, he singled out Saily Avelenda, a member of a local citizen group: “One of the ring leaders works in your bank!”

We strongly object to a member of Congress calling out a constituent to her employer for exercising her First Amendment rights. In a strong democracy, citizens must be free to engage in vigorous debate, both with one another and with their elected officials, without fear of retaliation. Rep. Frelinghuysen’s egregious interference, as demonstrated with his letter, violates the spirit of the First Amendment, which protects free speech.

We, the undersigned, represent New Jersey citizens who are deeply concerned about Rep. Frelinghuysen’s actions, and we are not alone. The Campaign for Accountability has filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics. We support the call for an investigation into whether Rep. Frelinghuysen violated House ethics rules by using his position to intimidate a citizen exercising her constitutionally guaranteed rights. No American should fear intimidation by an elected official for expressing his or her views.

Indivisible Princeton

STAND Central New Jersey

Three friends and I drove up to Flemington to meet Congressman Leonard Lance of the 7th district. Even though he’s not our representative, we were deeply rattled by the sudden dismissal of James Comey in the middle of a crucial investigation into the Russian hacking of our presidential election.

As my friend Dana Baber of West Windsor said, “we need assurance that the whole checks and balances thing is still working.” Eva Martin, who identifies as an independent voter worries, “this looks terrible. Representative Lance is a moderate Republican, so I hoped he’d give us insight into what is going on.”

For three of us, driving to Flemington to meet with Representative Lance was our first time talking to a member of Congress. I am not an activist and did not participate in the Women’s March. But as my friend Keller Halvorson said, “the firing of our nation’s chief law enforcement officer in the middle of a crucial investigation into our democratic process made us really nervous.”

Despite arriving without an appointment, we were able to meet with Mr. Lance. He was quite accommodating and willing to listen to our concerns. He stressed his trust in the Senate Select Committee’s investigation and urged us to give the both the House and the Senate committees another two months to finish their investigations. When pressed, he stated he was not ready to join the call for a special investigator, although he added the word, “yet.”

Congressman Lance also suggested we pay careful attention to the administration’s next appointee to replace Comey. “If the administration tries to appoint a shill, the Senate must block the nomination.”

We believe a special prosecutor will serve the nation’s interest better. But having the opportunity to make our concerns known to Mr. Lance was invaluable. “Will the law submit to this President, or will the President submit to the law,” asks Eva Martin. That’s the question every voter must ask themselves and their representatives.

Our experience was cordial, productive and helped us feel more connected to our government. We hope your readers might consider contacting their representatives. Our representatives are eager to hear from their constituents. As Mr. Lance added toward the end of our meeting, “we are all working to keep Democracy safe!”

Natasha Gajewski

#b#McCarter’s Gala at 40: Still Has ‘That Swing’#/b#

McCarter Theater’s annual Gala marks the 40th anniversary of this major fundraising event. Over that span, luminaries and legends such as Luciano Pavarotti, Carol Burnett, Gregory Peck, Dave Brubeck, Tony Bennett, Bob Newhart, and Lily Tomlin have graced our stage.

This year longtime friend of McCarter, Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra performed for a packed-to-the-rafters theater as the centerpiece of the evening.

Lending their support to this year’s Gala as Presenting Sponsors were BNY Mellon Wealth Management, Community Investment Strategies and WIRB Copernicus Group. Our Gold Sponsors include Bloomberg Philanthropies, CURE Auto Insurance, Drinker Biddle, Maiden Re, Mathematica Policy Research, Merrill Lynch, and PNC Wealth Management. We are deeply grateful for that support, and for that of many other corporate and individual sponsors and advertisers.

Special thanks go out to our gala committee and co-chairpersons — Ed Matthews and Vilma Keri, Chris Foglio-Palmer and Doug Palmer, Reggie and Aliya Browne — who orchestrated a festive and glittering evening for our guests. We would also like to thank Sebastian Clarke of Rago Arts and Auction Center for conducting our live auction and Viburnum Designs of Princeton for assisting with our center pieces.

We also want to give a special thanks to Princeton University for its longstanding support of this event and the theater throughout the season.

The proceeds of this event are used to support McCarter’s artistic and educational programming throughout our region. More than 100,000 people annually — from the five county region and beyond — see a show at McCarter or participate in a McCarter class or workshop.

Timothy J. Shields, Managing Director

Emily Mann, Artistic Director

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