HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Huntsville-area U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks told WHNT News 19 he has no plans to hold an open-to-the-public town hall meeting anytime soon, citing security concerns and an unwillingness to aid “disruptors.”
Area Democrats have criticized Brooks for failing to host a public forum to exchange ideas on issues before the current Congress, including the possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.
Brooks says he has concerns about the security environment for hosting such an event and doesn’t want to see anyone hurt or any property damaged.
Brooks cites the injury to a staff worker in California during an encounter with protesters seeking an audience with California U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher. He said others reports factored in to his decision, including: tires slashed at another California town hall event, cars burned during President Trump's inauguration, threats made in New York to a congressman and town halls across the country seeing rowdy exchanges.
So, would north Alabama residents be in danger if he hosted a town hall?
Brooks said residents shouldn’t be worried, as long as security measures were in place. But, that doesn’t mean a town hall meeting will soon be called by Brooks. He explained that he won’t provide a forum for protesters.
“If you’re talking about the kind of definition where a town hall is open to Democrat activist, anarchist, socialist, disruptors, and criminal elements, no, we’re not going to do a town hall that facilitates their attendance,” he told WHNT News 19 this week.
Brooks said he hasn’t done a town hall since 2015 and has developed a fondness for “telephone town halls” which can be accessed through his congressional website.
Brooks also stresses that he holds frequent meetings with constituents in his office and is open to meeting with anybody in his office.
The congressman also stresses that he does regular events at area businesses, schools and other locations, where he provides a Washington update and takes questions.
But Tom Ryan, chairman of the Madison County Democratic Party, said Brooks’ duty includes educating the public about his positions on the issues and giving the public a chance to hear an exchange of ideas.
Ryan argues Brooks’ talk about security concerns is a way to dodge facing the general public, especially on the question of repealing the Affordable Care Act.
“Meet with the people,” Ryan said. “This is just an excuse not to hold town halls, because he doesn’t want to take difficult questions. He doesn’t want to give them the answer to repeal and replace. Which is, he wants to repeal Obamacare and they don’t have a plan to replace it that would be acceptable to the American people.”