I’ve been writing about the invisible town hall revolution, where dozens of conservative members of Congress have been bombarded by ordinary citizens delivering progressive messages. This actually started after the passage of the Paul Ryan budget in the spring, and some members have figured out methods to deal with it. Some do only tele-town halls. Some throw out “disruptive” constituents asking the wrong questions. Some screen the questions. Some hold no town halls altogether. Some stack town halls with loyal constituents. And now, Paul Ryan and friends have hit on a new approach – charge money for the town hall meeting.
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 [...]
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.”
Americans have a Constitutional right to petition their government for a redress of grievances. That doesn’t only apply to lobbyists, and it doesn’t come with an cost attached to invoke that right.
It’s really no surprise that Ryan is taking the lead on this. He was battered at town halls back in April, and clearly doesn’t appreciate taking the heat. So it’ll cost you. And I’d predict that those motivated to pay will be those in support of Ryan and his goals. What’s more, outsourcing events to third parties probably sets up rules like not allowing video recording.
Democratic Party of Wisconsin spokesman Graeme Zelinski got in a good line:
“Paul Ryan has had a hard time going before open crowds, and for good reason,” Zielinski said. “I’m sure Ryan doesn’t want to go before the public to explain while his extreme ideology caused Standard & Poor’s to downgrade U.S. long-term treasury bonds. Beside, Ryan likes smaller settings — the kind where you can cozy up to a hedge fund manager and get a good $350 bottle of wine.”
Hey, at least Ryan and his Republican friends are boosting the economy.