LOS ANGELES (NEWS 8 / AP) — Endangered Republican Rep. Darrell Issa is planning to meet with hundreds of voters in his Southern California district this weekend, but he's going to friendly turf to do it.
Issa has scheduled a town hall Saturday in Republican-tilting San Juan Capistrano in Orange County, and the system his office used to distribute tickets has led to criticism that he's trying to salt the crowd with supporters, a claim his office disputes.
"We make an effort throughout the year to make sure all constituents have a chance to weigh in," Issa spokesman Calvin Moore said. "This is not the first town hall. It's not going to be the last."
Issa, the wealthiest member of Congress with a fortune estimated at more than $250 million, was narrowly re-elected last year in his San Diego-area district. Two Democrats have said they will try to oust him, environmental lawyer Mike Levin and Marine-turned-lawyer Doug Applegate, his opponent in 2016.
Photo courtesy of Mike Levin via Twitter
"Looking up and seeing him on the roof was the most surreal thing I have ever seen," said demonstration organizer Ellen Montanari.
Montanari leads weekly demonstrations outside Issa's every Tuesday morning since President Trump's inauguration.
"There are hundreds of hours that go into putting these rallies on," she said.
Montanari says Issa brushed her off when she asked him a question Tuesday.
"He turned over to me and I extended my hand to him to shake his hand and he told me to step away," Montanari said. "He said 'step away you're a protester' and I said 'we'll actually I'm a constituent.'"
Unusual behavior, she said, from the often fairly kind congressman.
"When he's in town and he comes out, he's very cordial, we're very cordial," said Montanari. "People ask questions, he answers and I don't know what was wrong with him today."
Darrell Issa took to twitter posting "Spent the morning talking with constituents gathered outside the office today then popped upstairs to take a quick pic."
Spent the morning talking with constituents gathered outside the office today, then popped upstairs to take a quick pic! pic.twitter.com/K2CFdenOIj— Darrell Issa (@DarrellIssa) May 30, 2017
"He did not come across the street to talk to any of the rally participants, he only came over to deliver a piece of cake," Montanari said.
Four photos from Issa show him across the street handing a slice of carrot cake to a lone Trump supporter named Shawn.
"He represents us, we pay his salary, we do want to hear from him," said Montanari. "But what we don't want, is him speaking disrespectfully about and to the people in his district. I draw the line.
"It doesn't surprise me that it went viral because it was such an odd moment to see a representative standing up on a roof"
Issa is among a handful of California House Republicans who are defending districts that Hillary Clinton carried in last year's presidential campaign, and they are expected to face tough re-election campaigns with President Donald Trump widely unpopular in the strongly Democratic state.
Issa told the San Diego Union-Tribune that he attempted to speak with the protesters, but they would not have a conversation with him.
In March the congressman, who campaigned for Trump, faced angry protesters and questions about health care, climate change and immigration at a town hall in Oceanside.
Questions about Issa's vote for a GOP health care bill in Congress are expected to dominate Saturday's event.
Rep. Steve Knight, another endangered Republican, is holding a town hall Thursday in Santa Clarita, a Los Angeles suburb.
In a twist on the recent trend, Trump supporters on Tuesday night disrupted Democratic U.S. Rep. Lou Correa's town hall meeting in Orange County, bringing a stop to the meeting until they were escorted out by police. There were no reports of arrests.
Democrats in California hold every statewide office and control both chambers of the Legislature. National Democrats are looking to flip control of a series of congressional seats in California next year, as part of a strategy to retake control of the House.
Clinton trounced Trump in California by over 4 million votes.