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Bigg ignores issues in phony tele town hall

On July 11, Arizona CD5 Congressman Andy Biggs held a last minute tele town hall. Teased the prior week in his newsletter, it was announced on his official Facebook page two hours prior to the scheduled start time. Mr. Biggs requested interested individuals private message him to receive the login credentials. Confused constituents from all sides of the political spectrum were concerned that they were forgotten in the rush, posting to Facebook to ask why they hadn’t been provided login information. Most people received notice mere minutes before the town hall was supposed to start. Others were contacted via remote call after the town hall began, further limiting engagement of our district.

Congressman Biggs watched MLB All Star Game as constituents asked important questions about his positions and votes. His staffers screened the questions, sometimes telling constituents that they could not ask a question. Throughout the town hall it became clear that the questions making it past the staffers were overwhelmingly favorable towards the Congressman’s established positions. Being a tele town hall, constituents were unable to gauge how many people were on the call, or if the questions/answers accurately represented the views of the callers.

Even though the constituents chosen to ask questions were primarily supporters of the Congressman, a few key moments stood out.

When one constituent pressed on the now confirmed Russian ties to the Trump campaign team (via self-incriminating tweets issued by Donald J. Trump Jr on 7.11.17), Biggs insisted that there was no clear legally defined “collusion” and that we should instead be spending resources on proven ties between the Clinton Foundation and Loretta Lynch. Yes, that’s right. Andy Biggs would like more taxpayer money wasted on investigating Hillary Clinton. And Trump supporters say it is Clinton’s base that can’t get over the election!

Many constituents pressed the Congressman on Healthcare Reform and the apparent dysfunction that exists right now between the chambers of Congress and the President. Fears of losing medical choices for veterans, to a total lack of passable healthcare reform after 7 years of posturing, and members of the House and Senate being unable to work in unison for reforms that had been promised made everyone feel frustrated and ignored.

Most tellingly, at the very end of the tele town hall one constituent identified as “Iris” mentioned that the ACA had been pushed through Congress without proper vetting, and as she began to draw a similar conclusion to the reforms being pushed by the Republican Congress right now, she was abruptly cut off by the Congressional staff. The Congressman then went on to explain that she was cut short due to the time constraints of the tele town hall, and that he felt the same frustration she did with Congress not acting more quickly.

Tele town halls are not representative of true Democracy. They are heavily censored lip service designed to cast the illusion that the Congressman is listening to his constituents when he isn’t. Eighty percent of Americans are dissatisfied with our current Congress. House and Senate leaders are moving in opposite directions than the American people on critical issues such as environment, equality, health care, education, and taxation.

We need leaders in Washington willing to work for our needs, not special interest and the 1%. Or at the very least, we need leaders who have the courage to meet constituents directly to discuss these issues, and who are willing to change their opinions when it is clear they do not reflect the majority views of their district.