Minnesota U.S. House members shy away from town halls

WASHINGTON – The annual Congressional recess in August is traditionally a time when House members hold town halls back in their districts. But a study published yesterday by the nonpartisan group No Labels says 60 percent of House members, including more than half of Minnesota’s eight-member House delegation, aren’t holding town halls this year.

The study says DFLers Keith Ellison, Tim Walz and Collin Peterson haven’t scheduled any town hall-style events and nor have Republicans John Kline and Michele Bachmann. We looked into why and here’s what we found:

Michele Bachmann – The GOP presidential hopeful has spent very little time in Minnesota since announcing her White House bid. While she hasn’t held any public events in her home state, Bachmann is holding a town hall tomorrow, but it’s in the important primary state of South Carolina. She’s joined by Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC), a tea party favorite.

Keith Ellison – Ellison’s office didn’t offer a response, but on Twitter, Ellison said the reports were inaccurate and he had held a public forum in a coffee shop this month and planned another for August 31st although a location and time weren’t included.

John Kline – Kline spokesman Troy Young writes, “despite my boss’s numerous public appearances throughout the district this month, we have no town hall meetings scheduled in the coming days.” Kline will be hosting a job fair in his district next month, currently scheduled for September 19th at the Eagan Community Center.

Collin Peterson – Calls and emails to Peterson’s spokewoman weren’t returned. UPDATE Peterson’s spokeswoman Allison Myhre called to say that while Peterson does not have any town halls scheduled, he’s been actively meeting with constituents across his district over the recess.

“They’re not technically town halls,” Myhre said, “but he’s certainly been doing a lot of meetings.”

Tim Walz – Walz spokeswoman Sara Severs writes, “We had a Farm Bill listening session last week, doing several veterans roundtables. We chose to do our larger summer town halls prior to the debt ceiling vote because Tim wanted to hear from folks prior to the vote. Planning another round of Congress on Your Corner events this Fall.”

  • Grace Kelly

    Keith Ellison did invite us all to a coffee meeting where anyone could come.

    You also ought to carefully point out only SOME members did not hold open accessible meetings. Your heading is incorrect. You also ought to give credit to Betty McCollum, who certainly did because I attended.

    You also ought to include the scope and opportunity to access for the whole year, especially those that allow public questioning.

    This is only the beginning of an article with very limited facts that are misleading.

  • Jim G

    What are our other three congressional representatives doing?

  • kim crockett

    I just listened to a town hall meeting held by Chip Cravaack in Duluth last night (on MPR this morning). Sounded like a productive meeting of citizens and their congressman.