Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

GOP Lawmaker Should Have 'Courage,' Hold Town Hall, Giffords Says

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

GOP Lawmaker Should Have 'Courage,' Hold Town Hall, Giffords Says

Article excerpt

As Republican lawmakers across the country have faced raucous, chaotic town halls in recent days, a number have refused to have these events. Some cited safety as a reason, while others said they didn't want their events "hijacked by the confrontations seen elsewhere. Rep. Louis Gohmert, R-Tex., in a statement released this week, blamed his decision not to hold these events in person on "the threat of violence at town hall meetings. He also pointed to a specific violent event to bolster his case, invoking the 2011 shooting that severely injured former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and killed six others.

Giffords responded Thursday, and she made clear she does not agree with lawmakers shying away from meeting with members of the public.

"To the politicians who have abandoned their civic obligations, I say this: Have some courage, Giffords said in a statement. "Face your constituents. Hold town halls.

Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, was shot in the head during a January 2011 meeting she was holding with constituents in Tuscon. Remarkably, Giffords survived the attack, which also wounded 12 other people. The gunman pleaded guilty in 2012 and was given seven consecutive life sentences.

In her message Thursday, Giffords called town halls and other meetings with the public "a hallmark of my tenure in Congress, adding that she felt "listening to my constituents was the most basic and core tenet of the job I was hired to do.

Gohmert, in his statement two days earlier, was responding to a group that called on him to have a town hall. But the seven-term congressman said he would opt instead for telephone town halls rather than public meetings.

"Unfortunately, at this time there are groups from the more violent strains of the leftist ideology, some even being paid, who are preying on public town halls to wreak havoc and threaten public safety, he said. …

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