The August congressional recess started last Monday. Last week, various news reports and Representative McKinley's Facebook page placed him in flooded areas through last Wednesday to tour and view the damage done by the recent flooding in the area. I think he deserves credit for that. However, there was no news or anything additional posted until late today.
On his government web page, the last entry on the "In the News" page of the "Media Center" section of the congressman's government website is dated 7/27/17 which predates the beginning of the recess (7/31). Similarly, the last "Public Relations" release on the site is dated 7/25/17.
McKinley's Twitter feed had him speaking to the Moundsville Lions Club a week ago but I could not find any current listing for a town hall or similar meeting with his constituents. Speaking at a service organization meeting is not the same thing as answering questions at a town hall. While I'm sure that most of those in attendance at the Moundsville Lions Club live in the First Congressional District, that doesn't mean that McKinley was asked difficult questions. Service clubs such as the Lions Club and veterans' organizations (McKinley's favorite audience) are groups that are much more social than political and my hunch is that one of the unwritten rules of these types of organizations is that guest speakers should not be put on the spot and embarrassed. For example (and I would note that I did not attend the Lions Club meeting and so I cannot say for sure), while McKinley may have been asked about health care, I doubt that he faced any tough questions or had to face a constituent who was angry about the possibility that his/her own healthcare (or a family member's healthcare) would be ended by the legislation that McKinley voted for in May. (Something I know he would face in a town hall meeting.)
McKinley's strategy of not holding town hall meetings may be shrewd one -- he avoids groups that allow anyone to speak while choosing audiences that are friendly or small or where the informal rules discourage tough/angry questions. McKinley did face a group that was not entirely politically-friendly when he met with MOVE (Marchers Ohio Valley Empowered) in April. McKinley, according to someone who was present, wisely limited the attendance to a small group and controlled the topics for discussion.
I believe that McKinley would be holding town halls:
- 1. if the Democrats were still in power and he did not have to defend Republican actions. Those in attendance would likely be much friendlier to him and his message. Not surprisingly, McKinley held a number of town halls while Obama was president.
- 2. if he had to deal with local media that regularly called attention to his avoidance of such meetings. For instance, from the front page of the Buckhannon Record Delta:
Obviously that's not a problem -- he's an Ogden favorite.
- 3. if he had a political opponent who kept pointing to his lack of town hall meetings. (Of course, that would also require media that covered such candidates.)
None of the above will happen and so Representative McKinley will continue to avoid town halls and I will continue to document his avoidance.