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NH Congressman announces “public” events only after they have taken place; hasn’t hosted town hall since August 2011

MANCHESTER, NH – Congressman Frank Guinta (CD-1) has a new campaign strategy: avoid debates, town halls and the public.

In 2010 then-candidate Frank Guinta made open town halls a campaign attack theme against then-Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter. NH Politfact recently gave these accusations a “Mostly False” rating, but that hasn’t stopped Rep. Guinta from using a similar line of attack in recent campaign press releases and in spite of the fact that the Congressman has come under fire lately from both Republicans and Democrats for refusing public debates in his own district.

According to his own official website, Congressman Frank Guinta has not held an open town hall since August 2011. The Congressman’s campaign website does not even have a calendar of events, public or private.

Now, Congressman Guinta is employing a campaign strategy of announcing public events only after they have occurred – or with such short notice that the public could not reasonably attend. For example:

*  “Frank's Footnotes Newsletter : A Busy Week in the Granite State” sent on Friday, August 10, 2012 lists upcoming events and makes no mention of a public opportunity to speak with the Congressman.

*   “Frank's Footnotes Newsletter : Honoring Those Who Help Our Veterans” sent on August 17, 2012 suddenly highlights a “District Discussion town hall meeting” held in Londonderry the day before. A snapshot of the Congressman’s official website still does not even carry an announcement of the event.

*  “Frank's Footnotes Newsletter: Taking My Jobs Message to Conway” sent on Friday, August 24, 2012 lists upcoming events through September 28th – but makes no mention of a public opportunity to speak with the Congressman.

*   In what appears to be a same-day* press release, the Congressman’s offices announces a “Seniors' District Discussion” in the town of Hampton on Thursday, August 30th. The Portsmouth Herald reports that only 20 people attended the discussion. (Congresswoman Shea-Porter town halls during the same time period two years ago drew crowds over 100.)

*   In contrast to avoiding public announcement of his own appearances, Congressman Guinta consistently advertises district office meetings with his staff members on both the events and press release sections of his website, as well as in his weekly newsletters.

*   Prior to the hastily announced and poorly attended Londonderry and Hampton district discussions, Congressman Guinta hadn’t hosted a district discussion since March 13, 2012.

“Congressman Frank Guinta is ducking open town halls with his constituents, plain and simple,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “His strategy is to quietly host supporter-filled events, then pretend that he’s being accessible to constituents. Frank Guinta is a congressman and all of his constituents should be able to attend a town hall with enough public notice to participate. Congressman Guinta is using DC-style campaign tactics unbecoming of Granite State traditions.”

“In contrast, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte have both announced and hosted town halls during this Congressional recess. Frank Guinta has one week left to follow their lead and host a real New Hampshire town hall,” Rice Hawkins said.

Originally posted to The New Hampshire Labor News on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 10:53 AM PDT.

Also republished by Take New Hampshire Forward!.

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