Woodall meets privately with tea party, rejects demands for town hall


Woodall meets privately with tea party, rejects demands for town hall

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U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga., responds to questions at Thursday’s meeting with the United Tea Party of Georgia in Lawrenceville. Thursday, June 1, 2017. Woodall’s participation in the event was kept secret to keep away progressive critics. Like many members of Congress, Woodall has not scheduled any public town halls during the legislative break. CHRIS JOYNER / CJOYNER@AJC.COM

Critics of U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall say his decision to meet quietly with a Gwinnett County tea party group Thursday, rather than hold a public town hall, ignores the wishes of a lot of his constituents.

“He has an obligation to hear all points of view,” said Ilene Johnson, communications director for the Gwinnett County Democratic Party. “He is obligated to represent everybody and not just the people who voted for him.”

But Woodall said he does not believe he needs to stage an event simply to allow people to protest the policies of President Donald Trump.

Woodall, a four-term Republican who represents Georgia’s 7th District, was the featured speaker at the monthly meeting of the United Tea Party of Georgia in Lawrenceville. By mutual agreement, his appearance at the event was kept quiet, even from tea party members who were only told to expect a “special guest.” Woodall’s office did not promote the event on his congressional web page or his social network accounts.

For more than an hour, Woodall spoke and answered questions from about 80 conservative activists at a restaurant at the Gwinnett County Airport. Despite regular demands to hold a public town hall, Woodall said he has no such plans. He said he is available to discuss policy with anyone, but they should make an appointment to visit him in his office.

“Folks don’t think your congressman will sit down with you,” he said.

Do members of Congress owe it to their constituents to host town hall meetings when they are in recess? Read this week’s AJC Watchdog column here to find out more.

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