Gallagher Responds to Town Hall Criticism
Several Republican members of the Wisconsin congressional delegation have been criticized by liberal groups for not holding in-person town hall meetings during the debate over a GOP health care plan. One Wisconsin Now has urged its followers to write letters to their local newspapers, urging Representatives Sean Duffy and Mike Gallagher, and Senator Ron Johnson to hold in-person town hall meetings.
Gallagher told Media Trackers in an interview Wednesday that he has held in-person one on one sessions and last week held a telephone town hall session that saw 10,000 of his 8th congressional district constituents take part:
“We had more than ten thousand people on the line ( for the tele-town hall). We heard all different perspectives. On the town hall issue, you know I spent nine hours on Saturday doing one on one meetings, mostly with some people on the opposite side of the ideological spectrum. It was, for the most part, a really constructive conversation. I learned a lot. We also had 20 listening sessions. So, I’m interested in having a conversation with anybody. I’m not interested in political theater, something that becomes a circus, which I fear kind of has become what people are being urged to do, in certain segments of the Democratic Party right now.
Gallagher was likely referring to efforts such as those by the group “Indivisible,” which targeted a town hall session held by Wisconsin Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner. As Wisconsin Watchdog reported, Indivisible has now attempted to take its efforts underground:
Indivisible members targeting U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, are moving their once-public communications, hiding behind Facebook secrecy settings.
And it’s in these members-only digital spaces where they now appear to be planning their disruption campaigns against Wisconsin conservative leaders, including Republican Gov. Scott Walker, according to online communications obtained by Wisconsin Watchdog.
Wisconsin Indivisible organizers say they are setting up various Facebook groups for “internal communication and collaboration.”
“They will be invitation only and will not be visible to the uninvited on Facebook or any other Internet search,” A group Facebook post noted. Facebook calls these privacy settings ‘secret’ groups. Members will be able to post to discussions, upload project documents and files, collaboratively edit documents, create work group events and online conference calls.”
Besides avoiding staged theatrics by the Left, Gallagher acknowledges that teleconference town halls allow him to speak to thousands of people at once. “Yeah, I could probably spend every day for the next year holding in-person town halls to get to that. That’s why Reid (Gallagher’s predecessor, Congressman Reid Ribble) was so big on telephone town halls as well. It’s just, particularly in a district like ours where there is a lot of rural areas, where, you know, some people can’t get to an in-person town hall. It’s just makes a lot of sense. So it’s really an effective way to reach out to people. But if people have ideas, I’m open to them.”
Johnson has also held telephone town hall meetings.
You can hear our interview with Congressman Mike Gallagher here: