By Ken Stone
Reprinted with permission from Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Network
Photo: Former Rep. Duncan Lee Hunter chats with former constituents at Ramona Mainstage before his son’s town hall in March 2017. Photo by Chris Stone
May 22, 2019 (Ramona) - Rep. Duncan D. Hunter returns to the scene of a raucous 2017 town hall when he takes part Saturday in another Ramona Mainstage event.
But his office doesn’t call it a town hall.
“Congressman Hunter has been invited to be the guest speaker, along with former Congressman [father Duncan Lee] Hunter, at the American Liberty Forum of Ramona on Saturday to discuss the topic of border security,” says Michael Harrison, the East County Republican’s spokesman.
“It is not a town hall; it is not a Duncan Hunter event,” Harrison said Tuesday of "The Border, Then & Now!" meeting. “He is coming as a guest.”
According to the group, the forum will be at 11:30 a.m. at the concert venue, 626 Main St., with doors opening at 11 a.m.
“The Ramona Mainstage offers free parking, an outstanding BBQ menu, and a full bar,” says its website. “We also want to remind you that security will be present at all forum events, and that uncivil behavior will not be tolerated.”
Until last year, American Liberty Forum was called Ramona TEA'd. It holds monthly meetings with high-profile conservative speakers.
A Pasadena-based website said Ramona TEA’d was a nonpartisan group of citizens committed to restoring constitutional government at the local, state and federal levels.
“To help the local electorate with the critical issues and races in the upcoming elections, RAMONA TEA’D sponsors “Town Hall” forum events to cover timely topics that are in the news, or should be,” said theamericanview.com, citing ramonatead.com..
On Facebook, American Liberty Forum of Ramona says it supports the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights as “written and intended by our Founding Fathers. Our mission is to promote individualism and participation in our Constitutional republic, through educational forums and responsible activism.”
On Monday, 50th Congressional District candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar — the Democrat who lost the 2018 race to Hunter — sent media members notice of a conference call Wednesday night.
“As you may know, Duncan Hunter Jr. scheduled his first town hall in over two years,” said a statement. “Our call will focus on discussing how #HappyCampas should engage if attending the town hall.”
Hunter’s visits to Ramona don’t always get advance publicity — which led to a critical letter to the Ramona Sentinel by that town’s Dave Patterson.
“How nice that our ‘representative to Congress’ came to Ramona to answer questions but chose to only visit ‘Hunter friendly’ groups,” he wrote, citing an April 22 visit with representatives of the Ramona Chamber of Commerce, Ramona Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3783 and American Liberty Forum of Ramona.
“Too bad his trip to the backcountry wasn’t advertised in the Ramona Sentinel or any other public media that I had seen. Mr. Hunter’s ducking of the public demonstrates another aspect of his lack of leadership, something we voters need to address when and if he comes up for election next year.”
Hunter and his wife, Margaret, face federal charges of campaign corruption and are set to go on trial this September in San Diego.
Hunter aide Harrison told The San Diego Union-Tribune that Saturday’s event is a chance to discuss “the effort and challenges in securing our border, what has been accomplished and what remains to be done, by two policymakers that have been at the forefront and involved with the issue for the past four decades.”
Five days before the November midterm election, Hunter held an Otay Mesa press conference and called for the use of military units to build a “high-speed foundational road” along the border as a way of “jump-starting” the still-unfunded border wall. No progress has been reported on the road.