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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Lindsey Graham Ditches Town Halls for Clown Halls

On August 31, 2013, in Opinion, by Daniel Encarnacion 

Imagine my surprise when this morning I opened up my email to an invitation to a breakfast town hall with Senator Lindsey Graham after Graham had been ducking town halls all month.

I was excited that Graham finally decided to meet with his constituents rather than spend his days overseas building the case for another war in the middle east. Soon, however, it became clear that it was nothing but a farce.
Traditionally, members of the US House and Senate spend their August recesses meeting with their constituents in public town halls. Lindsey Graham, however, has steadfastly refused to do this all summer. With an election year approaching in which he faces a host of tea party challengers in the Republican Primary, Graham seems to be a little spooked about talking with regular, ordinary South Carolinians. Sure, you can find him on the Sunday morning inside-the-beltway talk shows but you will be hard pressed to find him anywhere near a place where ordinary commoners have the chance to ask him a question.

Yet here it was, in black and white: An invitation to a breakfast town hall with Lindsey Graham sent by Elaine Magalicane, Vice-Chairman of the Charleston County Republican Party.

“Senator Lindsey Graham invites you to join him at a breakfast on Wednesday morning in Mount Pleasant,” the email read. “Senator Graham hopes to see you on Wednesday!”

I excitedly reposted the email in the Charleston County Republican Party Facebook group eager to share the good news. Quickly follows a message in my inbox from the event organizer, Charm Altman, who says, “The event is full. You must uninvite those you just invited.”


It turns out only a dozen or two people were ever supposed to attend and the invitations were sent first to Graham supporters thus denying opponents of Graham any opportunity to ask the Senator questions.

This follows the trend of Graham’s recent “tele-town halls.” Tele-town halls are mega conference calls where people can call in and supposedly have a chance to ask Sen. Graham a question. In reality, that isn’t the case as all the questions are screened and controlled. Only those chosen to ask a question actually get the opportunity to ask a question. All the pesky commoners are kept on mute and not heard from.

In another event this Tuesday in Berkeley County, Graham will be available to talk with constituents who pay $50.00 to see him. How’s that for constituent service?

And with that Lindsey Graham still refuses to hold any true town halls; instead, he opts for phony ones — clown halls instead of town halls. He pretends to have dialogue with voters but really he avoids them.

In a time when America is debating war and peace with respect to Syria, an ordinary South Carolinian has no way to get in touch with his senior US Senator. Lindsey Graham’s “Clown Halls” are controlled access and his Senate office number usually goes straight to voice mail — and the voice mail box is almost always full.

That is unacceptable. As a vote on war in Syria inevitably approaches, it’s time for Senator Graham to stop clowning around and hold a real town hall and talk to his bosses — We The People. And if Graham still refuses to meet with his constituents, then his constituents should keep that in mind as they cast ballots next year.

About the author
Daniel Encarnacion
Daniel Encarnacion is a small business owner in Charleston, SC and is the state secretary of the Republican Liberty Caucus of South Carolina. You can contact Daniel at or on Facebook at