Fay Snyder had a message for Rep. Bryan Cutler (R-100) in front of the Strasburg Township Municipal Building last week.
The current Willow Street and former Strasburg resident held up a sign high reading “Turn Coat Cutler,” calling out the Peach Bottom politician for his deal to help elect Berks County Rep. Mark Rozzi (D) as Pennsylvania House Speaker despite Republicans at least temporarily controlling the state house.
“He runs on one point, and then he turns right around and goes the other way,” Snyder said. “That’s why he’s a turncoat.”
Snyder was one of dozens of people who turned out Jan. 26 to confront Cutler at a constituent town hall meeting in the municipal building, holding signs that said “Bad Boy Cutler Sold Us Out,” “You Work for Us” and “How Many Pieces of Silver are We Worth?” Others yelled from the steps of the building, saying “traitor,” “We’re not going to have voter ID now thanks to Bryan Cutler” and asking constituents entering the building to “tell Bryan Cutler to resign.”
Members of FreePA’s Capital Area Chapter, the Berks County Patriots, PA Liberty Alliance and Patriots of PA were all in attendance, demanding answers from Cutler who was one of 16 House Republicans to vote for Rozzi on Jan. 3. Cutler remained inside the building during the entire event and did not address the crowd outside.
Snyder said by Cutler not addressing the grievances of the people outside, it showed he has “no interest” in what the public has to say and that he is an “absolute coward.”
“If he can’t face the music, then he has no business being in the hot seat – and he is in the hot seat,” Snyder said.
The Lancaster Patriot attempted to enter the town hall to cover the event but were turned away at the door by a member of Cutler’s staff. Cutler could be seen sitting on a table speaking with constituents in an adjacent room.
Reber Testerman, Cutler’s office manager in Quarryville, said only 40 seats reserved for his constituents were available in the room, and participants had to RSVP before the meeting to secure a spot. Testerman said Cutler doesn’t typically allow members of the press into town hall events.
“As far as for the group to have a free discussion, there’s no one there as far as video recording, taping, nothing, so that they can have a free exchange of ideas in the room,” Testerman said. “So, that’s [Cutler’s] stance and policy.”
Lively discussions took place for more than an hour outside the municipal building as protesters used a bull horn to amplify their voices. At least one person in a pickup truck yelled “fascists” at the protesters as he drove by the parking lot.
Quarryville resident Moses Beiler, who is represented by Cutler in the House, displayed a photo on his phone of Cutler sitting next to former Gov. Tom Wolf at the signing of Libre’s Law in July 2017, which updated Pennsylvania’s animal cruelty laws. Beiler said while the law had a “noble purpose” to protect animals, he called it “the peak of his career” for Cutler.
“I confronted him about it and said, ‘You know, you can now kick the neighbor’s dog and go straight to jail, but under your watch you can still get an abortion,’” Beiler said. “This is the height of Cutler’s career right here – working with the Democrats.”
Beiler, who owns a construction business, said he’s in older people’s homes for jobs on a regular basis, and their number one issue is property taxes. He said Republicans have done little to address the issue despite controlling the Pennsylvania House and Senate for years, and he said Cutler has done “absolutely nothing” on the issue in his role in leadership in the House.
“He’s unfit to be a town dog catcher,” Beiler said.
Blue Ball resident Peggy Larson-Buhalo of Patriots of PA said if Cutler cared what conservative Republicans had to say, he would have peeked his head out the door and explained his vote for Rozzi.
At the time of the vote, Cutler described installing Rozzi as House speaker as a bipartisan solution to end a deadlock between the two parties. But since the Jan. 3 vote, Rozzi went back on his word to stop caucusing with the Democrats and become independent, and he also shut down the House until Feb. 27 after three special elections are expected to give control of the House completely to Democrats.
The delay in the House session also nearly guarantees the torpedoing of a voter ID constitutional amendment that would have gone before Pennsylvania voters in the May 16 primary election.
Larson-Buhalo said she feels like many of Cutler’s constituents aren’t aware of his actions in Harrisburg, and that was one of the reasons the protesting groups wanted to have a presence at the meeting.
“He knew what he was doing, and he sold us out,” Larson-Buhalo said. “He sold the Republican people out.”
Fred Zentgraf of Wyomissing held a sign in front of the door reading “R.I.N.O. Cutler,” calling for his resignation from the House. Zentgraf said it was the voter ID issue that got him to travel to Strasburg to confront Cutler, encouraging the Republicans to challenge Rozzi to reopen the legislative session.
Zentgraf said he appreciates what Rozzi has done for survivors of child sexual abuse by pushing for a bill temporarily ending the statute of limitations for victims to pursue perpetrators. But he said Rozzi’s a “typical Democrat” on most issues.
“To be honest with you, I really don’t care to talk to a politician,” Zentgraf said. “If I want to communicate with them, I’ll email them so I have a record of what they told me. I gave up writing to politicians or calling them because they’re not honest.”
Sam Faddis, a retired CIA officer who leads the PA Patriots Coalition, helped organize the demonstration at the town hall meeting. Faddis called it “par for the course and standard operating procedure from Bryan Cutler” to have an event where people are kept from entering.
Faddis said he was mostly surprised Cutler decided to have a town hall event at all after the speakership controversy.
“The one thing I have to say is the guy has chutzpah,” Faddis said. “Nobody has received more pressure from patriot groups in the state probably than Bryan Cutler. And yet, the guy goes on the floor of the House of Representatives – it takes 15 other Republicans – and sells out and gives us a Democratic speaker without batting an eye.”
Faddis said divisions in society, like conflicts in the Republican Party, are pushed while a “tiny percentage of the population richer than the robber barons ever were” use tools of control like Google and the internet to manipulate political and news perceptions. He said the purpose is to “maintain the outward trappings of a republic” while the rich get even richer and more powerful.
“Even the guys that go to Harrisburg that have the right intentions, after they’ve been there for 15 minutes, it seems they’ve sold out,” Faddis said.
Cathy Frampton, a resident of Willow Valley Communities in Willow Street and a former Capitol Hill employee, said Cutler’s vote for a Democrat speaker is the perfect illustration of modern politics. Frampton said Democrats will “coalesce around one another,” while Republicans will continue to be divided and have further division.
Frampton said “We the People are finished” and that career politicians like Cutler only care about themselves. But she said the public has no one to blame but themselves when it comes to poor politicians because term limits already exist – by voting out politicians through the ballot box.
When asked what she would ask Cutler if she had the chance to be inside the town hall, Frampton had a quick answer.
“What’s to say except, ‘Shame on him,’” Frampton said. “He let us down. He misled us.”