More Republicans Charging Constituents For Town Hall Attendance

Yesterday I wrote about Republicans like Rep. Paul Ryan holding only “pay-per-view” town halls during the August recess where constituents must pay a fee to attend the event and possibly ask a question.

Now there are more Republicans we can add to the list who are pulling this stunt:

Two more members of Congress are refusing to hold free, open town hall meetings for constituents during the August recess and instead appearing only at paid events, POLITICO has learned.

Neither Reps. Lou Barletta (R-Penn.) nor Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) held or have scheduled town halls, but Barletta appeared last week at a $30-per-plate “CEO to CEO” forum and Ellmers is scheduled to speak at a federal employees’ forum that is charging a $13 admission fee.

Barletta and Ellmers join Reps. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.), who POLITICO reported Tuesday are all appearing at pay-per-view functions while eschewing town hall meetings open to all.

Another tactic for avoiding crowds of angry voters is being employed by members like Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.), who held two town hall events – but in far-flung, relatively unpopulated parts of his northeastern Minnesota district, while doing only paid events in Duluth, the district’s population and media hub.

I have no problem with members of Congress fundraising. If they want to hold events and charge admission in order to raise money, more power to them. But the expectation from the electorate should be that they also hold open town hall events that are free for all to attend and held at times and locations that maximize attendance.

I’m happy to say that my Congressman, Rep. Rick Berg, has done just that in North Dakota scheduling half a dozen town hall events in the state’s largest cities. Unfortunately, he’s been the target of some Democrat political operatives whose antics and grandstanding invariably make the headlines, but such is the price of openness and transparency.

If you’re afraid of criticism, you ought not be holding office.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • badlands4

    What a crock. Like you, if they want to fund raise in this manner then fine, but you don’t do it in PLACE of open town hall meetings. You do it in addition to open town hall meetings.

  • Spartacus

    Looking at it from another perspective, charging a fee to attend probably keeps away a good deal of the liberal kids seeking a gotcha moment, like the “macaca kid” that was working for James Webb back in ’06, knowing that in order to achieve their goal they’re going to have to pony up some cash toward their opponents re-election.

    • badlands4

      Yes, but it still isn’t right. You have an obligation to all of your constituents whether they agree with you politically or not, and whether they are going to make you uncomfortable during a meeting or not.

      I think it would be fair to say you can’t enter if you are not from the district the member represents, but to make constituents pay to see you because you are not giving them another option like a free, open to constituents town halls is wrong, wrong, wrong.

    • headward

      They still work for you no matter if you voted, agree, and/or donated to them.  We are their employers.

  • Hannitized, Proofs obsession


  • sbark

    Let em’ charge for attendence…….but be sure and subtract from any campaign contributions.   Or better yet when they call tell them the 1st 35.00 you donated went to a Townhall fee…….

  • Gregee

    It is just like you LIBERALS and the ‘lame stream media’ to portray these Republicans as greedy cowards who are afraid of their own constituents. In reality this is the exact thing this country needs to bring us back to greatness. By charging for what the commie loving Democrats give for free this crop of fresh Republicans will not only enrich themselves but also the people around them. In no time these public servants and their associates will not just be wealthy but will then become JOB CREATORS. These rich Republicans will need workers to cut their lawns, clean their houses and drive their cars. It is the cornerstone of the Republican Jobs Program 2011and unbelievable that you just don’t understand how America now works best.

  • Dakotacyr

    Just like the teabaggers did to the democrats last year.  Pot meet kettle.

    • robert108

      I would think that all teabaggers are Dems.

  • melissapaulik

    I agree with the kudos to Berg for holding a townhall, but it seems a bit misleading to say that these guys are charging for Town Halls. If I understood the events that you mentioned, they sound like meetings that there were invited to speak at – not actual Town Hall events. It doesn’t even sound like the money raised from these events goes to them, and yet you implied that these events were “fundraising” for the officials themselves.