Cotton promises town halls later this year; Senator's closed-door policy unique among Arkansas congressional delegation | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Cotton promises town halls later this year; Senator's closed-door policy unique among Arkansas congressional delegation

Posted By on Thu, Feb 2, 2017 at 6:22 AM

click to enlarge COTTON: Currently keeping the doors closed, promises town halls later this year.
  • COTTON: Currently keeping the doors closed, promises town halls later this year.
Noted, for the record: Sen. Tom Cotton's staff is now promising that Cotton will hold town hall meetings in Arkansas this year.

Nearly all Congressional Republicans have avoided holding town halls thus far this year, wanting to dodge the sorts of direct confrontations with constituents that can go viral on YouTube. The few that have had the guts to hold one have gotten a passionate response on issues the like the Affordable Care Act.

Cotton is among those not eager to stand before the public in an open town hall setting. When a citizens group, Ozark Indivisible, proposed a town hall to Cotton's staff earlier this year, they were declined. Cotton's staff cancelled, without explanation, a meeting with the group that was set for yesterday. The staff had limited attendance from the group at that meeting to five people. The group instead protested outside of his Springdale office yesterday, with more than 100 people demonstrating.

Cotton's spokesperson Caroline Rabbitt (who will not respond to queries from the Arkansas Times except the time she told us that "Battle Hymn of the Republic" was Cotton's favorite song) told the D-G's Frank Lockwood that Cotton will hold town hall meetings in the state later this year, although no dates have been set.

Lockwood notes that Cotton is the only member of the Arkansas congressional delegation who requires constituents to schedule appointments to visit his field offices in the state, a rule he imposed as soon as he took office. Constituents who have been frustrated by a lack of access have noted when they have attempted to call the number posted to schedule an appointment this week, no one has answered. All other members of the Arkansas congressional delegation have an open-door policy (check out the forceful quotes from each office explaining the value of being open to the constituents they serve).

Lockwood also notes that Cotton's unwelcome-mat policy is a sharp break from previous officeholders. He tracks down former Sen. Mark Pryor, who told him, "My view was that Arkansans were always welcome in my office. It was really their office after all."

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