Why did political strategist and lobbyist Ryan Costello attempt to tie a peaceful rally organized by bipartisan grassroots activists to an unrelated criminal act?
On March 15, Jeff Van Drew held a press conference to reveal that he had received a death threat.
The next day, a former Pennsylvania Congressman and lobbyist attempted to tie the rally held on March 14th and Who Is Van Drew? the organizer, to the incident, painting our lawful exercise of democratic rights as related to the death threat.
In a tweet, Ryan Costello characterized Who Is Van Drew? as “angry leftists."
The threat had not been made public at the time of the rally, let alone during the planning stage.
Who Is Van Drew? does not engage in violence or threats. It seeks to shed light on the Congressman’s political behavior. For instance, Van Drew voted against the COVID relief bill. Since the group is formed of constituents in his district, it’s intimately aware of the pandemic-related economic distress in South Jersey. Rally participants collected food donations, which were brought to a church in Jeff Van Drew’s district and immediately prepared for distribution.
Van Drew’s vote against COVID relief, against background checks for gun owners, against the Equality Act prove that he is unmoved by the needs of people in his district. It’s a First Amendment right to petition the government for redress of grievances, and that’s exactly what Who Is Van Drew? was doing with its rally. The group also tried to meet the needs that its Congressman chooses to ignore. Voters have a constitutionally protected right to hold him accountable for his behavior in D.C.
This is indeed what democracy looks like.
Yet the protest was characterized by lobbyist Ryan Costello as a group of “angry leftists." In fact, Jeff Van Drew has provoked concern from Republican constituents as well.
WIVD? is a group of informed voters speaking out peaceably against a Representative that is not listening to his district.
He deleted his Twitter, has blocked constituents from his Facebook page, and is notorious for not returning phone calls or letters from his voters. There have been no recent town halls. He’s instead pledged his “undying support” to a disgraced former President, and his true allegiance shows in his votes.