Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) refuses to hold a town hall with constituents, even as he faces one of the most challenging re-election races of his career. Instead, Rohrabacher prefers events on platforms like Facebook, where his staff can handpick softball questions and there is no opportunity for any follow-up.
Politico recently reported on the dearth of town halls for members of Congress during August, even as members of the House take a monthlong vacation from legislating in D.C.
Rohrabacher is one of the members who has not held a town hall this entire congressional cycle, stretching back to the beginning of 2017.
Instead, Rohrabacher “has held a number of town halls by telephone and on Facebook, which are not subject to disruption,” said Andrew Eisenberger, Rohrabacher’s spokesperson. “He has found these methods to be more effective means of communication with constituents.”
The language used by Eisenberger is much nicer than previous language used by Rohrabacher. In the past, Rohrabacher has called constituents asking for a town hall “fascists” and “enemies of American self-government.”
A week before Politico reported on the lack on in-person town halls, Rohrabacher held his latest Facebook Live “town hall.”
To begin the “town hall,” Rohrabacher spoke directly to the camera about topics he wanted to discuss, including attacking undocumented immigrants and health care. When discussing health care, Rohrabacher lamented the Republican failure to repeal the popular Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
He then went on to claim that he wants to protect individuals with pre-existing conditions. But with only his staff in the room, no one was present to push back and remind Rohrabacher that he did, in fact, vote to dismantle protections for pre-existing conditions.
When he voted to repeal the ACA, the fact-checking site Politifact stated the bill would allow insurers, “to charge people significantly more if they had a pre-existing condition like heart disease, cancer, diabetes or arthritis – possibly requiring people to pay thousands of dollars extra every year to remain insured.”
Finally, after nearly 20 minutes, it was time for a question from a constituent, handpicked by Rohrabacher’s staff.
“David from Huntington Beach wants to know your favorite surf spot.”
Rohrabacher spent the next few minutes discussing surfing.
It’s easy to see why Rohrabacher prefers this method of communication. He can mislead people about his previous positions, face no push back, and then rely on softball questions hand-picked by his staff.