Members of Congress Not Expected at Town Hall This Week
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – ***Update - Organizers say Senator Joe Manchin has now agreed to attend. ***
Organizers still hope to see West Virginia's U.S. senators and congressional representatives at a town hall in South Charleston Thursday night, although none has said he or she will attend.
Cathy Kunkel, an organizer with Rise Up West Virginia, says voters are frustrated and are not getting answers about health care legislation, immigration, ethical conflicts and Trump campaign contacts with Russian officials. She says the state's elected leaders haven't been holding open public meetings in West Virginia.
"We were really disappointed that despite all the calls into our senators and congressfolks that they have not held or scheduled any in-person public town-hall meetings, and so we decided to schedule one for them," she states.
Kunkel says Rise Up West Virginia invited Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito, and Rep. Alex Mooney. None has said he or she will attend or send staff. Kunkel says if not, her group will collect comments and questions to pass on. Manchin has said he will attend a health care town hall next month.
Angry crowds criticized members of Congress in other states during the last recess. Some lawmakers charged paid political opponents derailed the events. But there is little or no evidence of paid protesters.
Kunkel says all five West Virginia members of Congress did go to a public reception in Washington. But she says they haven't been holding open meetings back home. Kunkel says voters should press them to do what she calls a basic part of holding public office.
"This is not rocket science here,” she states. “This is the bare minimum responsibility of their job. Continue to call these senators and congresspeoples' office, and ask them to hold town hall meetings, and I would also encourage folks in the Charleston area to come out to the town hall."
The town hall is Thursday evening at the LaBelle Little Theater in South Charleston.
Mooney is not originally from West Virginia and often has been criticized for not spending time in his district. He has held a number of what his office calls telephone town halls, where he takes screened questions.