(Manchester- August 8, 2013) This month, the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate is in August recess. This is typically a time meant for representatives and senators to return to their districts and hold Town Hall meetings to engage with their constituents, especially on the important issue of Obamacare as its implementation is looming. Our organizations contacted Sen. Shaheen, Rep. Shea-Porter, and Rep. Kuster's office as early as this morning. Sen. Shaheen and Rep. Kuster's offices informed us that they have no Town Hall meetings scheduled whatsoever. Rep. Shea-Porter's office did inform us that they do have two public events scheduled on the issues of veterans and manufacturing at the end of the month, but nothing regarding healthcare or a general Town Hall meeting where Obamacare would be appropriate to discuss.
Up until now, neither Rep. Shea-Porter's office nor Rep. Kuster's office has hosted a single Town Hall meeting since taking office in 2012. It has been a year since Sen. Shaheen has hosted a Town Hall meeting. While both Sen. Shaheen and Rep. Shea-Porter have participated in "Leader's Listen" events hosted by WMUR-TV, neither events were hosted by the Senator or Congresswoman's offices, respectively, nor were they open Town Hall meetings. In contrast, Sen. Ayotte's office has hosted multiple Town Hall meetings in several regions of the state.
Sen. Shaheen, Rep. Shea-Porter and Rep. Kuster are all ardent supporters of Obamacare. With the looming implementation of many key provisions of Obamacare coupled with disastrous poll numbers for the law in New Hampshire, many Granite Staters believe the three aforementioned federal representatives are avoiding their constituents on the issue out of fear of political backlash.
Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire and Cornerstone Action will be holding protests at Sen. Shaheen and Rep. Kuster's Nashua offices and Rep. Shea-Porter's Manchester office next week calling on them to hold Town Hall meetings where Obamacare can be discussed and will ask for them to stop hiding from their constituents on the issue.
Protest at Sen. Shaheen's Office: Tuesday, August 13 at 11:00 a.m. Sen. Shaheen's Nashua Office 60 Main Street Nashua, New Hampshire
Protest at Rep. Kuster's Office: Tuesday, August 13 at 11:30 a.m Rep. Kuster's Nashua Office 70 East Peal Street Nashua, New Hampshire
Protest at Rep. Shea-Porter's Office: Wednesday, August 14 at 12:00 p.m. Rep. Shea-Porter's Manchester Office 33 Lowell Street Manchester, New Hampshire
Derek Dufresne, spokesman for Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire, released the following statement:
"New Hampshire has a long tradition of Town Hall meetings between elected representatives and their constituents. However, Sen. Shaheen, Rep. Shea-Porter and Rep. Kuster have decided that in order to avoid the backlash liberals felt in response to passing Obamacare in 2010, that they will avoid their constituents on the issue altogether in 2013.
"August recess isn't over yet. We hope that this added pressure from Granite Staters, next week, at their offices will encourage our senior senator and two representatives in Congress to stop hiding and hold real Town Hall meetings where we can discuss Obamacare and the impact Granite Staters will feel from the soon to be implemented law."
Ashley Pratte, Executive Director for Cornerstone Action, released the following statement:
"Here in the Granite State, we value our grassroots political system and the civic engagement process. When elected officials flee their duties to directly engage their constituents through Town Hall meetings on all issues, they are denying New Hampshire citizens their right to access.
"It is a shame that Sen. Shaheen, Rep. Shea-Porter, and Rep. Kuster are not making themselves readily available to the public out of fear of tough questions regarding the unpopular subject of Obamacare. New Hampshire families deserve better."