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Caught Our Eye

Lawmakers held fewer town hall meetings during recess

Posted by LegiStorm on Sept. 2, 2014

Many legislators have filled their August recess with town hall meetings, but the number is still far below what it was this time last year.

Last month, members held 588 such meetings, compared to 792 in August 2013, when LegiStorm began gathering data on town halls. LegiStorm tracks press releases, newsletters, social media, member web sites and other sources to collect dates, times and other information related to these gatherings. LegiStorm tracks these interactions with constituents, whether they take place in person, on the phone or online using forums like Twitter and Google Hangouts. The data does not include campaign events.

Rep. Vance McAllister (R-La.) led his peers with 23 town hall meetings last month, followed by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), with 19 events.

Members of Congress didn't always choose a crowded community building for such events. On Aug. 26, Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) took questions on immigration while riding a bus in El Paso. Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) was one of several members who hosted a "Coffee with your Congressman" event. His took place at a Chik-fil-A in Sumter.

Politicians missed an opportunity this year to provide constituents with a way to beat the summer heat: There were five ice cream events held in August 2013 -- four of them by Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) -- but none were held last month.