The last time Sen. Chuck Grassley held an open town hall meeting, he got an earful from Iowans upset over unaddressed gun violence. The tense exchanges and Grassley’s explanations drew national attention.
That was two and a half months ago, on June 1. Grassley hasn’t held another public town hall since, an unusually long amount of time compared to past years. He’s continued on with his annual 99-county tour this summer, but has stuck largely to events at private businesses and local conferences instead of the open forums that typically draw people who are more openly critical of his stances.
But that ends tomorrow, with his scheduled town hall meeting in Corydon, in Wayne County, which the general public can attend. It will be held at the Wayne County Courthouse at 10:30am on Wednesday, August 17, in Corydon.
There’s a lot that’s happened since Grassley has hosted one, from the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, to Grassley’s votes against the gun safety bill and capping insulin costs, to Donald Trump’s mishandling of confidential documents, and more.
At his Columbus Junction event at the start of June, Grassley insisted he had an open mind on the sweeping gun violence legislation, though he was careful not to express support or opposition to barely any of its measures. He would end up voting against the bill, even as fellow Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst voted in favor.
The gap in time between public town halls is unusual, but it does fall in line with how Grassley has long structured his 99-county tour to minimize moments where he could face intense public backlash. For example, it’s been documented in recent years how he almost never holds an open-to-the-general-public meeting in the state’s largest counties, which trend more Democratic. During his last six-year term, he didn’t hold a single public town hall in Polk, Linn, Black Hawk, Woodbury, Johnson, Dubuque, Story, or Dallas counties.
Grassley insists a mix of private and public meetings (and he does take questions at the private ones) are useful in reaching different groups of people in each county, reaching people at worksites or schools who might not be able to otherwise attend. But it’s also clear that he takes that otherwise reasonable excuse and abuses it by almost never hosting open meetings in Iowa’s largest counties, all while pitching his 99-county tour as an exercise in transparency.
And Grassley typically mixes in one to three open town halls during a multi-day swing through several counties, but he has not done so this summer, when national controversies that could impact his reelection have been burning bright.
Since the June 1 town hall, it appears that he has visited the following 24 counties, all with attending private businesses or meetings or conferences.
Some of the examples of his appearances include an agriculture convention in Bettendorf, a construction worksite in Northwood, a Mason City chamber of commerce meeting, a credit union in Marshalltown, a bank in Waterloo, and a technology consulting firm in Hiawatha.
by Pat Rynard
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