Activist resigns after congressman writes letter to employer

GOP rep goes after activist by writing letter to employer

GOP rep goes after activist by writing letter to employer

"Needless to say, that did cause some issues at work that were hard to overcome", said Saily Avelenda of West Caldwell, New Jersey, who was a senior vice president and assistant general counsel at the bank before she resigned. Frelinghuysen, who has served in Congress for 22 years, is up for re-election in 2018 and may face more opposition than he has in previous campaigns.

The bank's pressure and criticism of Avelenda was a stunning reversal, given in late March, the bank announced her promotion to senior vice president/assistant general counsel, a promotion that surely was in the works before Frelinghuysen's attack.

Avelenda makes a point of noting that she was not fired, but she decided that the tensions caused by the letter at her job made her feel uncomfortable enough where she no longer wanted to work there.

Frelinghuysen's office directed questions to his campaign, which issued a written statement saying, "The Congressman wrote a brief and innocuous note at the bottom of a personal letter in regard to information that had been reported in the media". The pressure she felt to defend her political involvement outside of her employment is what led her to resign, she said.

As the new chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, the influential Republican found it adequate to send a handwritten note to one of the bank's board member naming Avelenda for her outside activities along with a fundraising letter, WNYC reports. The group's website features a countdown clock since the 80-year-old congressman's last in-person town hall. "Whether or not it breaks a criminal statute is one issue, but the very clear issue is that it appears that a member of Congress might be using his power to threaten someone's employment due to their political activities". "One of the ringleaders works in your bank", WNYC reported.

The group has also held weekly protests at [Frelinghuysen's] office and visits to his Washington offices.

Attached to the fundraising email was a news article where Avelenda is quoted about her involvement in NJ 11th for Change.

"I thought my Congressman put them in a situation, and put me in a really bad situation as the constituent", she told WNYC.

Messages left for Avelanda and Lackland Bank have not yet been returned.

Still, a GOP congressman representing a district in New Jersey found it wise to use his influence as an elected official to stifle Saily Avelenda's freedom to stand by her own ideals.

In a tweet, the company said it wouldn't comment on the status of a current or former employee, but said every bank employee has "the opportunity to support community activities or the political process in the manner that he or she desires".

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