So Paul Ryan and a handful of other Republican Congressman are opting out of town hall meetings during the August recess. From Politico:
It will cost $15 to ask Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) a question in person during the August congressional recess.
The House Budget Committee chairman isn’t holding any face-to-face open-to-the-public town hall meetings during the recess, but like several of his colleagues he will speak only for residents willing to open their wallets.
Ryan, who took substantial criticism from his southeast Wisconsin constituents in April after he introduced the Republicans’ budget proposal, isn’t the only member of congress whose August recess town hall-style meetings are strictly pay-per-view.
Rep. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.) is scheduled to appear Aug. 23 at a luncheon gathering of the Arizona Republican Lawyers Association. For $35, attendees can question Quayle and enjoy a catered lunch at the Phoenix office of the Snell & Wilmer law firm.
And Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.) took heat in Duluth this weekend for holding private events in his district’s population and media center — including a $10-per-head meeting hosted next week by the local chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, which on its invitation notes that the organization “supported Chip in his stunning upset over long time Congressman Jim Oberstar in the 2010 election.”
It’s no secret why members of Congress would shy away from holding open town hall meetings – it’s no fun getting yelled at by angry constituents or having an uncomfortable question become an unfortunate YouTube moment.
By outsourcing the events to third parties that charge an entry fee to raise money, members of Congress can eliminate most of the riffraff while still – in some cases – allowing in reporters and TV cameras for a positive local news story.
This should not really come as a surprise because the last time Paul Ryan held a town hall event he reportedly had to escape constituent outrage by tiptoeing out of a backdoor and jumping into an escape vehicle.