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News Wednesday, Jun 7 2017

#SpinelessGOP: Arizona Edition

Jun 07, 2017

Senator Jeff Flake may have been busy over the past few months, but he wasn’t spending time talking to his constituents:

  • Since January, Flake has held just one (1!) town hall event to hear from his constituents, even as he’s preparing to threaten health care access for millions.
  • Over the same time period, Flake has held numerous fundraisers — including two with Mitt Romney and one with George W. Bush. He even found time to keynote a Chamber of Commerce gala with John McCain.
  • Yesterday, Flake held a “Financial Services” fundraiser and tomorrow he holds another fundraiser with the chair of the Senate Banking Committee, the same day Congress will vote to repeal the Dodd-Frank financial reforms.
Flake used to value Arizonans’ input: in 2009, he held town hall events focused on healthcare during the Obamacare debate. But 8 years later, Flake refuses to show up to more than one constituent meeting every six-and-counting months — even though he’s in the middle of another healthcare debate, and one where he’s on the side that’s trying to take away millions of Americans’ healthcare access.

Something’s changed, and it isn’t Arizona voters’ interest in talking to their junior representative in the Senate.

American Bridge President Jessica Mackler made the following statement on Jeff Flake’s town hall absenteeism:

“Facing intense pressure to vote against a tax-cut-for-billionaires healthcare bill that would be disastrous for his constituents and throw seniors and people with preexisting conditions under the bus, it’s no surprise that Jeff Flake, who’s voted  20 times to repeal and undermine Obamacare, is in hiding.

“But that’s no excuse for Flake opting to hobnob with big donors, failed presidential candidates, and D.C. insiders instead of serving the Arizonans who elected him.”


Check the facts…

2017: Flake Avoided Town Halls, Fundraised With DC Insiders

Flake Avoided Town Halls During His Weeklong Recess From The Senate, Though He Appeared At Businesses, A Nuclear Plant, And Spoke At The Glendale Chamber Of Commerce. According to the Associated Press, “Flake has had a full schedule this week, appearing at businesses and events across metropolitan Phoenix, launching a push to defend NAFTA against a possible Trump pullout, making an appearance at a nuclear plant, speaking to business leaders and working to boost his campaign coffers. As of March 31, records show he had about $1.8 million on hand. Flake avoided town hall meetings that have stirred up liberal voters and protesters like the one he faced earlier this year. At events before friendly crowds this week, like a Glendale Chamber of Commerce event Tuesday, he still got questions critical of repealing health care law.” [Associated Press, 6/2/17]

George W. Bush Headlined a Fundraiser for Flake in April, 2017. According to the Arizona Republic, “Incumbent U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, who is gearing up for a potentially tough re-election battle, will report raising $1.4 million in January, February and March. […] Flake’s campaign, which on Wednesdayhosted former President George W. Bush at a fundraiser, did not release a cash-on-hand figure. ‘It’s gratifying to have such strong and early support for my campaign,’ Flake, R-Ariz., said in a written statement. ‘Campaigns are tough and expensive. We’re off to a good start.’” [Arizona Republic, 4/13/17]

Flake Appeared At A Fundraiser With John McCain On April 19, 2017 For The Arizona Chamber Of Commerce. According to the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, a pay to attend luncheon featuring Jeff Flake and John McCain was held in Phoenix on April 19, 2017. [Arizona Chamber of Commerce, 4/19/17]

Romney Appeared At Fundraisers For Flake On Friday, June 2, 2017. According to the Associated Press, “Ward has taken aim at Flake for bucking his party’s right wing and backing immigration reform, dubbing him ‘sanctuary senator.’ She also criticized him for the backing he gets from former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, another Trump critic who is set to appear at a Flake fundraiser on Friday. Former President George W. Bush also came to Arizona for a recent Flake fundraiser, and he can count on the loyal backing of fellow Arizona Sen. John McCain.” [Associated Press, 6/2/17]

2009: Flake Held Two Health Care Town Halls In 2009

TOWN HALL #1: 8/10/09

Flake Held A Townhall Largely Focused On Heathcare That Was Described As “Civil” Compared To Townhalls Around The Country. According to the East Valley Tribune, “Chandler’s Basha High School’s auditorium took on the look and feel of a major sporting event Monday night as more than 1,350 residents from the East Valley stuffed themselves into every nook and cranny allowable by the fire marshal to pepper U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake with questions and criticism about health care reform legislation working through Congress. What unfolded was perhaps a more civil version of the Town Hall forums on health care lawmakers hosting across the nation. At certain times, members of Flake’s district, which includes Gilbert, Queen Creek and Apache Junction and parts of Mesa and Chandler booed and shouted, particularly when someone spoke in favor of health reform legislation under consideration in Washington D.C. But outside the auditorium those on both sides of the health care debate were impolite at times.” [East Valley Tribune, 8/11/09]

Flake Told Pelosi That At His Town Hall: “Far From Being An Angry Mob, The Discussion Was Civil And Courteous.” According to the Arizona Republic, “Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who held a town-hall meeting Monday in Chandler, is criticizing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., for characterizing noisy attempts to drown out health-care-reform supporters as un-American. ‘Far from being an angry mob, the discussion was civil and courteous,’ Flake wrote the next day in a letter to Pelosi.” [Arizona Republic, 8/16/09]

Flake Took Issue With Speaker Pelosi’s Letter Characterizing Flake’s Healthcare Town Hall As “Astroturf” Saying: “My Constituents Have Legitimate Concerns About The Democrats’ Healthcare Proposal.” According to a press release obtained via Congressman Flake, “Republican Congressman Jeff Flake, who represents Arizona’s Sixth District, today sent Speaker Pelosi a letter taking issue with her characterization of healthcare town hall participants as ‘astroturf.’ ‘My constituents have legitimate concerns about the Democrats’ healthcare proposal,’ said Flake. ‘It’s not ‘un-American’ to voice those concerns.’ Congressman Flake recently participated in a healthcare town hall that was attended by over 2000 of his constituents. Unlike many of the town halls that the media has focused on, the discussion was civil and courteous.” [Congressman Flake, 8/12/09]

TOWN HALL #2: 8/30/09 or 9/1/09
Flake Had A Second Town Hall To Address Obamacare, Which Was Much More Sparsely Attended, Only 400 People, Compared To Around 1,350 At His First One. According to the East Valley Tribune, “It was a shadow of its predecessor, but Rep. Jeff Flake’s second town hall debate on health care wasn’t short on angry residents with strong opinions about the reform legislation under consideration in Washington, DC. While there was some shouting and even some four letter words exchanged during the hour-and-a-half event at Poston Butte High School in San Tan Valley, there were fewer fireworks than there were during the Republican congressman’s first meeting at Basha High School on Aug. 10. There were also fewer people. Terry Johnson, a spokeswoman for the Pinal County Sheriff’s office, which helped arrange the event, estimated the crowd size at about 400 people. That’s a fraction of the 1,350 that packed the auditorium to the rafters at Basha High School.” [East Valley Tribune, 9/1/09]

Flake, On Town Halls: “Most Of Us Have Been Listening. That’s Something We’re Supposed To Do In August.” According to the Arizona Republic, “Business owners wrote down their questions in advance, although several were allowed to ask questions to fill the extra time at the end. Most business owners asked technical questions about the bill – how would it affect their payrolls? How does it change what they’re doing now? Several wanted to know how the bill’s supporters expect business owners to pay for the reform, which requires them to contribute 8 percent of each employee’s pay to a public insurance plan. One man suggested that, as a business owner, he would just as soon cut employees’ pay 8 percent than take that amount out of his profit margin. The event was significantly smaller than others held around the Valley this month. ‘This is better than a town hall like the ones we’ve seen,’

Published: Jun 7, 2017

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