Burlington County Times

Trump To Help Raise Funds For Rep. Tom MacArthur At Bedminster Event

Burlington County Times — June 6, 2017

By David Levinsky, staff writer

U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur, who is both hailed and shunned as the savior of the Republican health care overhaul, will receive some fundraising help from none other than President Donald Trump.

Trump will headline a fundraiser for the 3rd District Republican congressman on Sunday at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, Somerset County.

A copy of the invitation suggests donations ranging from $5,400 to $100,000 for a VIP photo opportunity with the president.

The event follows MacArthur's recent work to revive the GOP's legislation to repeal and replace the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act with its own health care reform bill, the American Health Care Act. The bill nearly sank earlier this year amid opposition from House conservatives and moderates, but MacArthur negotiated a compromise amendment with the leader of the conservative Freedom Caucus that saved the legislation and led to its narrow approval in the House.

After the vote, MacArthur stood beside Trump and was one of the featured speakers at a White House celebration. While originally opposed to a fast repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the congressman has said he decided to take on a leadership role in writing the GOP bill because he believes the status quo will result in the collapse of health insurance markets.

"I'm proud to stand with a president with a different answer, a president who trusts the states and ultimately trusts the American people," MacArthur said during his remarks at the White House. "So this is a big day. It's a first step, but an important step to make sure we keep our promise and take care of the American people."

MacArthur's high-profile role in writing and passing the legislation has energized Democrats in his district and made him a target for opponents.

Already three Democrats have announced their intentions of running against him next year, and there have been weekly protests outside his district office in Evesham.

Last month, McArthur drew more attention by hosting a five-hour town hall meeting in Willingboro that drew hundreds of protesters and featured a nearly continuous onslaught of interruptions, shouting, heckling and boos from angry constituents.

He also stepped down as co-chairman of the centrist Tuesday Group Republican caucus, citing division among the members over his role in reviving the American Health Care Act.

More recently, he joined White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney in questioning the impartiality and accuracy of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office's latest analysis of the health care bill and its projection that 23 million Americans would lose coverage if the legislation becomes law.

Maura Collinsgru, a leader with the liberal advocacy group New Jersey Citizen Action, said there have been regular demonstrations outside Trump's golf course, and she predicted there would be a sizable presence on Sunday.

"We find it very troubling," Collinsgru said. "(MacArthur) asserts he's a moderate, but he has supported and has been supported by Trump at every turn."

Some political watchers have surmised that MacArthur's work on the health care bill may have made him more vulnerable in next year's midterm elections, although he remains a formidable target.

The Cook Political Report, a Washington-based political publication known for its election prognosticating, moved its classification of his 3rd District seat from "solid Republican" to "likely Republican" the day after the House vote.

Trump's fundraiser will likely add significant dollars to what was already a healthy re-election fund. As of March 31, MacArthur's campaign account had a $189,862 balance following a quarter where he raised just over $232,000.

The Toms River resident also has the ability to self-finance, having amassed a sizable fortune during his previous career as CEO of an insurance services firm. During his first election, he loaned $5 million to his campaign.

Democrats are hoping the anger over the health care legislation can help them flip the 3rd District seat for only the second time in over a century.

Andrew Kim, a former Obama military adviser who grew up in Evesham and Cherry Hill, is among the candidates who has announced plans to run against MacArthur. As of Monday, Kim had nearly $60,000 in campaign pledges on his Crowdpac fundraising page.

Another announced Democratic challenger, prominent Moorestown attorney Katie Hartman, is also raising funds for a campaign. On Monday, Hartman had $13,600 in pledges on her Crowdpac page. A fundraiser is scheduled for her campaign on Thursday in Moorestown.

Top Top | NJCA Homepage | NJCA in the News