House Speaker Paul Ryan doesn’t seem to like holding public town halls for his constituents in his southern Wisconsin district.
According to Democratic challenger Randy Bryce, Ryan hasn’t held a public, in-person town hall since October 2015. He’s preferred more exclusive events, and instead taken questions via telephone or held sessions with employees at private workplaces.
In response, some constituents in Ryan’s district have held town halls without their representative, and nearby Democratic congressmen have held town halls in Ryan’s 1st Wisconsin congressional district, Politifact noted.
Now that Bryce’s criticisms regarding his elusiveness are starting to find an audience, Ryan appears to have turned to a major news network for help.
CNN landed Ryan for an “exclusive town hall” on the network on Monday night with chief Washington correspondent Jake Tapper. Despite being billed as a “public” event, the session is anything but easily accessible. It was booked at a theater in Ryan’s district, but CNN required prospective guests to fill out a form detailing who they are and what questions they plan to ask their congressman. Once submitted, CNN said it would notify respondents if they were selected for admittance.
— Randy Bryce (@IronStache) August 19, 2017
It’s worth noting that Bryce was not selected to attend the “town hall,” and won’t be allowed into the theater.
— Randy Bryce (@IronStache) August 21, 2017
And in case the “public” nature of the event could not be more in question, Ryan’s office initially said local media would not be allowed into the event. CNN and Ryan’s camp changed their tune only when the local Journal Times posted an article online about not being allowed to attend.
Given that CNN is offering the House Speaker plenty of free airtime and access to the “public,” Bryce is seeking to run ads on the network during the event, and is demanding equal time. After all, in addition to the town hall event, CNN’s editor-at-large Chris Cillizza pumped up Ryan’s push to lead where Trump has failed in a column on Monday afternoon ahead of the broadcast.
— Randy Bryce (@IronStache) August 18, 2017
Bryce is a U.S. Army veteran and union ironworker who has billed himself as a progressive Democratic candidate running in support of causes like a single-payer healthcare system, a $15/hr minimum wage, immigration reform that keeps families together and campaign finance reform — causes Bryce’s own national party hasn’t been too keen on across the board either.