Capital Region

Stefanik’s favorite books list draws snarky responses

Congresswoman sought reading suggestions from public
Elise Stefanik answers questions from constituents during a visit to the Johnstown Senior Center in October.
Elise Stefanik answers questions from constituents during a visit to the Johnstown Senior Center in October.

21st CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT — U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, who rose to national prominence this fall by ardently defending President Donald Trump during the House impeachment hearings, got a lesson in being careful what you ask for.

The congresswoman, who has posted her favorite books of the year at the end of December since taking office in 2015, recently asked the public for reading suggestions through the internet.

What she got were hundreds of earnest answers, but also hundreds of snarky suggestions, presumably by Trump critics who felt Stefanik’s dogged defense of the president during impeachment hearings ignored his alleged subversion of the rule of law. And those responses caused a Twitter sensation, again putting the national spotlight on Stefanik, albeit not a polite one.

Critical writers suggested she read the U.S. Constitution, the Mueller report (which was critical of the president and did not exonerate or accuse him of illegal interference in the Russia investigation) and a wide variety of reporting on Trump and his dealings with Ukraine, as well as other issues relating to the president.

The hubbub led to a story in the Huffington Post headlined, “GOP Rep.’s Request For Reading Recommendations Goes Spectacularly Awry.” The brief story quoted a number of critical tweets.

Stefanik’s list of her top five books included novels and history not directly related to current politics.

Stefanik, like all the Republicans in the House of Representatives, opposed impeachment, and she received national attention for her high-profile questioning of witnesses at the House Intelligence Committee hearings in November.

As a result, she has become a favorite of many Republicans but a target for many Trump critics.

Both Stefanik and her Democratic opponent, Tedra Cobb of Canton, are expected to see major fundraising hauls when fourth-quarter fundraising totals are released in the next few weeks. Cobb raised more than $1 million in a single day after the Intelligence Committee hearings from people upset with Stefanik’s performance, her campaign said.

Stefanik’s campaign said her post was non-partisan, simply intended to promote reading.

“Congresswoman Stefanik has a long record of promoting literacy and local libraries in the North Country,” spokesman Lenny Alcivar said in a released statement. “Every year like many elected officials, she posts her annual reading list to continue to promote literacy for all ages in the new year.” The statement also criticized her opponent.

For the record, here are Stefanik’s Top Five, from 46 books she said she read:The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris; Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn by Daniel Gordis; Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway Revolution by Todd Purdum; The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding by Jennifer Robson; and Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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