Melendez says American Heart Assn. 're-invites' her to speak just hours after cancelling her appearance

Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, shown speaking at an event in Murrieta, will appear at a Heart Association event after all. Murrieta 24/7 ph...

Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, shown speaking at an event in Murrieta, will appear at a Heart Association event after all.
Murrieta 24/7 photo: Doug Spoon

Local Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez said Thursday she was "re-invited" to be a speaker at an American Heart Association event in Wildomar on Friday after a KFI radio interview described how she was "uninvited" for her support of President Donald Trump.

Melendez, a Republican serving the local 67th District, including Murrieta and Menifee, told Murrieta 24/7 that she received a call "re-inviting" her to speak at the "Rock Your Red" heart health awareness event right after the interview aired.

"My office got a call literally one minute after the KFI interview ended," Melendez said. "They called back and said there had been a miscommunication and that they would love to still have me speak."

Hours earlier, Melendez posted on her Facebook page that her office had received a call from an AHA staff member, informing them that her scheduled appearance at the event had been cancelled. In a phone interview with Murrieta 24/7, Melendez said her office was informed that a corporate decision had been made not to have elected officials speaking at local events.

During her phone interview on the John and Ken Show on KFI radio, Melendez said that in pressing for specific reasons for the cancellation, her staff learned that an individual involved with the Inland Empire Chapter of AHA requested the cancellation after reading media reports about Melendez's trip to Washington D.C. to attend Trump's inauguration.

"We were told someone read an article about my trip to the inauguration, where my 14-year-old daughter was called disgusting names and my son was spat upon," Melendez said about Women's March protestors' treatment of her children, who were wearing Trump hats. "Apparently, the only women they want to talk about are women who don't support Trump.

"The person with the Heart Association who saw that said, 'We don't want any part of that.' "

Melendez said she will speak at the event on the topic she was scheduled to speak about all along: Empowering women, how to balance family and career, and the importance of heart health. She helped sponsor two legislative bills that put defibrillator machines in local schools and provided training for their use.

"Why would I talk about politics at an event like that?" Melendez said. "I have spoken at these events before. Both my parents died of heart attacks. I have sponsored bills addressing the issue.

"The American Heart Association is a non-profit that is not supposed to be involved in politics. I represent 450,000 people -- Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Green Party ... The Heart Association thought I was great until I said I was supporting Trump."

The AHA was called in to support the fundraiser for two local heart disease survivors, said Sheryl Wilkerson of the Inland Empire Chapter. She denied that the brief "un-invite" had anything to do with Melendez's support of Trump.

"Heart disease does not know a political party," Wilkerson said. "I did call and apologize for misunderstanding our corporate guidelines. We are a non-partisan organization. We apologize profusely to Assemblywoman Melendez for the miscommunication."

Melendez said her staff was told earlier in the day that although policy was not to allow elected officials to speak, Temecula Mayor Maryann Edwards would still be speaking because she is a heart disease survivor and "would not be speaking as an elected official." Asked later in the day how Edwards' situation differed from Melendez's planned non-political comments about heart health and her personal story, Wilkerson said she couldn't answer the question.

Wilkerson said Friday's event "is not really a Heart Association event" and couldn't provide details regarding ticket prices and whether seating was still available.


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