Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH) told a local radio station on Tuesday that he doesn’t intend to hold any town halls because “just having a town hall setting where people are screaming doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
Renacci said that if his constituents have concerns, he’s happy to meet with them one on one.
“What I’ve tried to do is offer individual meetings — I’ve got time in the office, what I call office time, that people can come and meet, and talk with me on an individual basis,” Renacci told host Jasen Sokol. “Sad thing is, Jason, a lot of people say to me, ‘I’m not coming unless you do a town hall with 150 people.’ Well if you have a concern, you can come to my office and we can talk about it.”
You can listen to his comments below, starting at 9:00:
Renacci also said that a lot of the requests for town halls have been coming from out of state.
“A lot of times I see the people and they hit my Facebook account saying you won’t do a town hall, and we have staff that look at those, some of those are from California, some of them are from out of the country, out of state,” he said, adding that some requests from his constituents are people that he has met with before. “It just seems to be a tendency to say, ‘he’s not willing to confront,’ and the interesting thing is, I actually like confrontation, I like the idea, as long as it’s not 100 people screaming.”
When Renacci was running for congress, however, he sang a very different tune.
During his first campaign in 2010, Renacci attacked incumbent Rep. John Boccieri (D), for failing to show up to several town hall-style meetings set up by Renacci’s campaign.
“It is deeply troubling to see that our current Congressman is so ashamed of his record that he refuses to face his own constituents in an open forum and listen to their mounting questions and concerns about his policies,” Renacci said in a press release.
In 2012, Renacci fought again for his seat after Ohio’s Republican legislature redrew the state’s district lines, eliminating two seats and overlapping his district with that of Democratic Rep. Betty Sutton.
“In a stunning and stark contrast, there is no record of Congresswoman Betty Sutton, who has been in office for the better part of a decade, ever holding a single in-person town hall meeting open to the general public — and she certainly has never done so while running to represent the 16th District,” a Renacci campaign news release said, according to Politifact Ohio, who found evidence of Sutton holding several town halls and rated Renacci’s claim “false.”
Now, however, it’s Renacci who’s been accused of dodging his constituents.
— 2getherStark (@2getherStark) February 23, 2017
In February, he posted on his Facebook page about “a great town hall this morning with concerned citizens about the need for tax reform.” Underneath the post are over a hundred comments, many of them from constituents saying that the “town hall” was not on his calendar and was not actually open to the general public.
“I called and asked about when you were having a town hall and was told none were scheduled. Christine and Shayla in your office said this was NOT a town hall, but was a campaign event. When will you be having an actual town hall open to the public? The website does not list any upcoming,” a woman who’s Facebook profile puts her in Renacci’s district replied. “You can hardly call it a town hall if you don’t invite the public,” another said.
Later in February, some of Renacci’s frustrated constituents planned a town hall of their own and invited their congressman to attend, an increasingly popular tactic citizen groups are employing in response to GOP reluctance to hold town halls.
Renacci didn’t attend, telling local media that his schedule had been booked for months and he had another obligation.
In March, Renacci announced his intention to run for governor of Ohio in 2018.