Mitch McConnell’s Pay-to-Play “Town Hall” Scheme
Though he and his staff have repeatedly refused to hold any town halls during the President’s Day recess this week, Senator Mitch McConnell is advertising his multiple pay-to-play luncheons and dinner appearances this week as “town hall” events. Despite the fact that attendance is by paid RSVP only, media outlets such as Lawrence O’Donnell’s Last Word and CNN have both reported over the last day that McConnell is holding successful town halls.
There’s a reason for that “success”: he’s choosing which constituents have access to him while he visits Kentucky.
As we originally reported last week, Senator Mitch McConnell, – despite repeated inquiries from Indivisible Kentucky – has thus far refused to release any details about meeting directly with constituents during his time in Kentucky outside of these faux-town halls.
“Throughout our meeting with Senator McConnell’s state director I asked for a town hall several times,” said Indivisible Kentucky co-founder Kim Hibbard about her recent meeting with McConnell’s state director. “The only response was that the Senator is an avid proponent of the First Amendment right to peaceful protest and free speech. By the end of the meeting, when I asked for a town hall, the only response I got was a smile.”
As he attends limited access luncheons and dinners this week scheduled and attended mostly by conservative constituents sympathetic to his agenda, press has reported McConnell as a successful model for others in how to hold a local town hall in the age of Trump.
At a restricted access chamber of commerce luncheon in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky yesterday, McConnell faced little opposition indoors as 1,000 protesters met him outside the venue demanding he hold a town hall. Rather than address those constituents’ concerns, McConnell flippantly commented, “winners make policy and losers go home.”
McConnell’s strategy is simple: have his staff refuse to release his schedule/agenda for the recess (so constituents can’t find him), attend restricted access paid events attended by those who will offer little open resistance, and publicize those pay-for-play events with mainstream media as successful town hall events. Using this strategy McConnell can field friendly questions from supporters and give lip service to hundreds of constituents asking for town halls by saying he respects their right to protest (without actually acknowledging they are constituents merely seeking an audience with their representation).
After today McConnell has two more pay-for-play events (that we know of) – you can see the details here.
Stay tuned as we continue the #Hunt4Mitch.