U.S. Senator Rob Portman responds to criticism about town hall meetings during congressional recess

No Ohio Senator planning town hall meetings

CLEVELAND -

U.S. Senator Rob Portman responded Friday to criticism of his lack of scheduled town hall meetings while he’s on a Congressional recess.

Both Portman and Senator Sherrod Brown have been avoiding the traditional open forums with voters and instead opting for smaller sessions with specific interest groups.

On Friday, Portman was in Cleveland to talk with members of the Greater Cleveland Partnership about their ideas for federal tax reform. 

“I want to be sure they’re constructive sessions,” Portman said. “This incivility on both sides, people yelling at each other, is not going to get us to a point where we can make progress on those issues.”

On Thursday night, the liberal activist group Indivisible CLE held their own town hall meeting in Cleveland without Portman. Hundreds attended and voiced concerns at a cardboard cutout of Portman’s face. The group’s organizers said both Portman and Brown were invited.

“Fear is the only reason that Rob Portman is not standing in this room tonight and instead we had to settle for a cardboard cutout of our Senator,” Suzy Scullin with Indivisible CLE said.

On Friday, Portman also responded to claims he had Democrats removed from a Republican fundraiser in Seneca County on Wednesday night, saying it was the local Republican party’s decision and not his own.

He also sidestepped a question about President Trump’s decision to bar certain media outlets from a press event on Friday. The President excluded outlets including CNN and The New York Times.

When asked, Portman said it was the first he had heard of it, but added, “I think it should be open."

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