Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lawmakers Hiding from Their Constituents?

from the Baltimore Sun
Sixty percent of House lawmakers across the county – and all but one in Maryland – are forgoing town hall-style meetings with constituents during the August recess period, according to a review released Monday by the nonpartisan group No Labels.

The group, founded by Democratic and Republican centrists, surveyed individual offices on Capitol Hill. The only member of Maryland’s delegation actively holding town hall meetings is Rep. Andy Harris. The Baltimore County Republican announced another meeting in Fruitland, Md., for Tuesday.

“Washington must hear from all Americans, not a handpicked few who (pass) a partisan litmus test or can afford to donate,” said William Galston, a co-founder of the group and a former advisor to President Bill Clinton. “Our concern is that elected officials are only hearing from their respective partisan bases and will not expose themselves to criticism.”

The number of town hall meetings scheduled by lawmakers dropped precipitously after the summer of 2009, when voters who were upset about health care legislation turned out in droves. The response forced the then-Democratic majority in the House to alter the legislation and was considered a significant victory for the Tea Party movement.

The No Labels survey found that 68 percent of Democrats and 51 percent of Republicans are ditching the meetings. Congress will return to Washington after Labor Day.

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