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Offices of Reps Bishop, Walberg and Trott respond to criticism over lack of constituent access

Feb 21, 2017

Progressive constituents say Republican Congressmen Dave Trott (R-11), Mike Bishop (R-8) and Tim Walberg (R-7) are avoiding them. Stateside spoke with three such constituents today. 

Below are responses from the offices of the three named Congressmen:

The office of Rep. Tim Walberg (R-7):

Rep. Walberg appreciates the opportunity to hear from all his constituents on both sides, which is why he held 80 coffee hours and town hall meetings in all seven counties in the district during his last term. Because of the new administration’s aggressive 100 day agenda, when Rep. Walberg has been in DC for votes and hearings, we have offered groups the option of a video conference to share their concerns with him. We have already held three and are open to more. In addition, Rep. Walberg has already held one town hall and four tele-town halls so far this year and we will continue to do more throughout the year.

–Dan Kotman, communications director for Rep. Walberg

The office of Rep. Dave Trott (R-11):

Rep. Trott always welcomes and wants input from all of his constituents. Since being elected, Rep. Trott has attended over 1,000 public events, including 40 public forums, town halls, and coffee talks. Rep. Trott’s office has resolved almost 1,000 constituent casework issues, held over 200 mobile office hours across the district, and in the last few weeks, Rep. Trotthas sent over 6,500 written responses to constituents’ regarding their questions and concerns.

– Katie Vincentz, communications director for Rep. Trott

The office of Rep. Mike Bishop (R-8):

As of February 15, a total of 161 people in our district have called our office and asked to be on our tele-townhalls and every single one of them was dialed on our latest tele-townhall (133 of that same group was also dialed for our Feb. 1 event). If constituents did not get to participate, it is very likely they didn’t request to be added or did not answer the call to join.

Despite the false information out there, Congressman Bishop hasabsolutely had in-person, official events in the last 600 days. Here is a list of 16 publicized events he did – with constituent crowds – just in 2016:

Veterans Day event – Oakland County, November 11, 2016

Opioid Awareness Panel, with local experts and police – Oakland County, October 19, 2016

Opioid Awareness Panel, with local experts and police – Livingston County, October 17, 2016

2 Veterans events – Livingston and Ingham Counties, October 7, 2016

Village Manor discussion about health are, Medicare, Social Security – Livingston County, October 6, 2016

Veterans event – Oakland County, September 19, 2016

September 11th Memorial – Oakland County, September 11, 2016

Lansing Chamber event – Ingham County, August 26, 2016

Veterans event – Livingston County, May 30, 2016

Brighton Chamber event – Livingston County, May 9, 2016

Brighton Senior event – Livingston County, May 9, 2016

Medal of Merit ceremony for student achievement – Ingham County, May 7, 2016

Rochester Chamber event – Oakland County, April 16, 2016

Jewish leadership breakfast – Oakland County, March 31, 2016

Domestic Violence Awareness Panel, with Congresswoman Walorski and local law enforcement – Livingston County, March 30, 2016

Vietnam Veterans event – Livingston County, March 29, 2016

Capital Area Community Service’s Walk for Warmth – Ingham County, February 28, 2016

That said, the claim that constituents are not being heard simply is not true. Congressman Bishop specifically addressed many of their concerns on the last tele-townhall; several protesters and local organizers asked him questions during the February 15 event – about issues including health care, Social Security, Russia, and the need for in-person townhalls. We do not know the political affiliation of the callers, only their names and cities. No one is screened out; the Congressman gets to as many constituent questions as possible during the time allotted for these calls.

So you are aware, Congress has been in session (voting) 24 of the 37weekdays in 2017. Dealing with the logistical constraints of the session schedule, Congressman Bishop has been hosting tele-townhalls because it is a highly effective way to reach a very large number of people. As of last week, he has contacted more than 60,000 individual households this year and will reach even more in the coming weeks.

In addition to the tele-townhalls, the Congressman himself and our team have spent hours upon hours working to respond to them:

2017 Year to Date Numbers:

161 constituents – as of Feb. 15, who have requested to be added to Congressman Bishop’s tele-townhalls. The lists carry over to each event we do.

60,000+ households – proactively called by the Congressman to participate in his tele-townhalls this year

30+ meetings taken by Congressman Bishop himself –with constituents and/or constituent groups, including a veterans roundtable during this district work period.

55+ meetings taken by legislative staff – with constituents and/or constituent groups

6 protests – until last Thursday (due to the size of that protest group) zero constituents had been turned away, all have met one on one with staff, some have returned multiple times, andall have been gathering on days when he is voting in Washington, D.C.:

Monday, January 30th

2:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Met 1:1 with 28 constituents (did not turn anyone away that wanted to meet)

Tuesday, January 31st

1:00 PM - 3:30 PM

Met 1:1 with 16 constituents (did not turn anyone away that wanted to meet)

Monday, February 13th

4:00 PM  - 6:00 PM

Met 1:1 with 17 constituents (did not turn anyone away that wanted to meet)

Tuesday, February 14th

10:00 AM - 2:00 PM

Met 1:1 with 17 constituents (did not turn anyone away that wanted to meet)

Wednesday, February 15th

Met 1:1 with 3 constituent protesters (did not turn anyone away that wanted to meet)

Thursday, February 16th
Tried to meet 1:1 with ~300 protesters at our mobile office hours in Ingham County, 10-11am (as publicly scheduled)

1,270 pieces of mail sent – written by the Congressman, in response to constituent concerns

2,500+ calls – constituents communicating directly with our staff

5,000+ emails sent – from the Congressman directly in response to constituent concerns

161,000+ emails sent – proactively updating constituents on various issues in the new year

2 mobile office hours events – staff holds 2 meetings per month (to service constituents in Oakland and Ingham Counties), which is on track to-date and consistent with what we have done since the Congressman entered office in 2015(note for you: we did not do 2 in January 2015 and did not do 2 in January of this year, due to bad weather conditions).

94 open cases – currently being handled by district caseworkers (navigating federal agencies on behalf of constituents with visa issues, IRS tax problems, employment benefits, veterans benefits, etc.)

55 cases closed – staff has finished work on behalf of the constituent

Congressman Bishop continues communicating directly with constituents on a regular basis and is working to address their concerns. Constituents who have a specific issue navigating the federal government or a government agency are welcome to schedule a one-on-one meeting with the Congressman or our team at any time.

– Kelli Ford, Congressman Bishop’s spokesperson

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