See below for the Virginia 10th CD Democratic Committee on Rep. Barbara Comstock’s “stealth conference call” last night (click here to listen to this charade). Bolding added by me for emphasis…
Tonight, Representative Barbara Comstock demonstrated a shocking lack of respect for her VA-10 constituents. After going over 6 months since last holding a “virtual” Town Hall, and nearly a thousand days in office without holding a real in-person Town Hall in the district, Representative Comstock held a stealth conference call and claimed it counted as a town hall. Despite Congress having spent much of the last few months in recess, Rep. Comstock decided to hold her “town hall” on the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. While the event was nominally open to the public, Rep. Comstock failed to advertise it on social media, her Congressional website, or her email newsletter. Rumors that it would be held began trickling out yesterday, but only folks who got the secret PIN code or were hand-selected to be robocalled by Comstock’s staff were able to participate.
Not only did Representative Comstock fail to provide her constituents with any public notice, she showed up 10 minutes late to the 7PM event, and only at 7:30 (a third of the way through the event) was the first member of the public allowed to speak. Representative Comstock received criticism for her previous teleconference “town hall”, where she gave the first question to a Republican campaign consultant, but tonight she doubled down, taking questions from her staffer and from a DEA agent she described as a good personal friend. It’s not bias or fake news to say she got softballs – even Rep. Comstock herself commented on how easy one of the questions was.
Rep. Comstock and her staff frequently encouraged listeners to subscribe to her official newsletter (so sparse it didn’t even contain notice of this event) and come by her Sterling office (which features a recently instituted locked door policy and an “appointments are encouraged” sign). Much mention was made of her (unannounced) mobile office hours and pre-screened photo ops, but they’re no substitute for direct and unfiltered constituent contact.
All of Representative Comstock’s challengers, Democratic and Republican, have pledged to hold in-person Town Halls, live and unfiltered, here in the district. Rep. Comstock has repeatedly refused to do so, instead trying to skate by with unpublicized, staged and pre-screened teleconferences. Voters in the 10th CD deserve better, and next November they’ll have a chance to vote for a candidate who will communicate with them respectfully and frequently, instead of hiding behind a telephone or a locked door.