WASHINGTON, Aug. 23 (UPI) -- The majority of U.S. House lawmakers aren't conducting town halls open to the public during their August break, a survey by a non-partisan group indicated.
The group No Labels said its members phoned every House member's office and learned that 174 -- about 40.5 percent -- were conducting public events, while 256 -- about 59.5 percent –weren't, Politico reported.
By party, the survey indicated Democrats were more likely to eschew public meetings, with 68 percent of them not conducting any. Fifty-one percent of House Republicans weren't conducting public town halls, the survey indicated.
"Our concern is that elected officials are only hearing from their respective partisan bases and will not expose themselves to criticism," said No Labels co-founder William Galston, a former policy adviser to President Bill Clinton. "Politics is about competing ideas, and everyone should have a seat at the table."
During the recess after the bitter legislative fight over healthcare reforms, opponents to the bill flooded town halls and other public events to vocalize their displeasure, often disrupting the events.
Whether to hold town halls and how open they should be has been a touchy issue for lawmakers during the August recess. Politico reported several congressional members, including House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Rep. Ben Quayle, R-Ariz., were conducting events requiring attendees to pay.
Members of House leadership -- both Democrats and Republicans -- were divided on whether they were holding town halls, No Labels' research indicated.