Republicans Hide, Plan 'Sham Town Halls' to Duck Angry Constituents
Voters are resorting to billboards, protests, and petitions to highlight absentee officials
While some Republican lawmakers have faced angry crowds at town halls this week, many are going out of their way to avoid meeting constituents face-to-face during April's congressional recess.
A USA Today analysis published Monday showed that "Reps. Leonard Lance of New Jersey and Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania appear to be the only swing-district Republicans who voted for their party's bill to replace Obamacare who will directly face constituents over the April recess."
But Costello caught flak from his hometown newspaper, which criticized the lengths to which the congressman was going to seemingly sanitize the event.
Sure, wrote Unionville Times editor Mike McGann, it was "good news" that Costello scheduled a forum for Saturday. However, he continued:
The bad news is that he's holding it in Historic Courtroom 1, limiting it to 100 people, it was announced Thursday and filled up within minutes—and no one can record the video. Some sort of modern-day Stasi will be at the door, demanding "papers, please" to make sure those lucky few who get to attend live in the Sixth Congressional District.
There are some additional criticisms that all of the questions are being pre-screened—Costello's office says to prevent repetition, but it smells a bit fishy.
Oh and the whole event will last one whole hour. Generous.
Still, that's better than Costello's colleagues, Republican Reps. Pat Meehan and Lloyd Smucker, who McGann noted "can only be found on the back of milk cartons."
— Sydney (@Sydney843) April 10, 2017
— Wes Callender (@WesCSays) April 10, 2017
— Tuesdays With Toomey (@TuesdaysToomey) April 11, 2017
It's possible the missing-in-action lawmakers are wary of facing crowds like the one that Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) encountered Monday night, which used against the congressman the very words he threw at former President Barack Obama in 2009—"You lie."
The Indivisible Guide has also provided tips for dealing with what it calls "sham town halls"—ones like Costello's, with conditions for attendees, or like the one just announced Tuesday by Arkansas Republicans Sen. Tom Cotton and Rep. French Hill, which will be held in the middle of a Monday afternoon.
— Indivisible Guide (@IndivisibleTeam) April 11, 2017
— Billy Fleming (@JooBilly) April 11, 2017