WASHINGTON — The wave of town hall protests targeting House Republicans, and aided by labor and progressive groups, is forcing lawmakers to put restrictions on the forum’s traditionally open structure.
On Tuesday night, Rep. Allen West’s office (R-Fl.) reportedly screened questioners during his town hall event by requiring individuals to fill out index cards which were then vetted by his staff. This was, the Boward County Sun Sentinel noted, different from “his usual practice at previous town hall meetings, where West took questions from people who lined up at microphones.”
Separately, House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), who has chosen to publicly broadcast his town hall locations rather than avoid the protests, was forced to leave Tuesday night’s forum in a different car and from a different exit out of security concerns. The Wisconsin Republican told a local reporter that the decision to leave hastily was precautionary but not something that should be “blown out of proportion.”