A common complaint amongst those wishing to have their voices heard by Congressman Rodney Davis is that he refuses to hold town halls. New research by local activist group CU Indivisible reveals that this isn't quite the case. Congressman Rodney Davis will hold a town hall...if the price is right.
The research released shows a number of town hall style events, all of which have been linked to significant campaign contributions. CU Indivisible found 14 such meetings with groups responsible for AT LEAST $138,000 in donations. CU Indivisible notes that this is preliminary research and that the true total is likely much higher.
Cited in the research are recent private events Davis held with employees at State Farm in Bloomington and local business owners in the agriculture industry. Davis' tweets and donor list tell the story.
The State Farm event (celebrated with a tweet) was held on June 1, 2017, in Bloomington. State Farm has been one of the top 5 sources of donations for Davis over the course of his career and has come under scrutiny by the judicial system for their donations to elected officials in recent years. State Farms' PACs, employees, and owners have donated $48,875 to Davis’ campaign and PACs over the course of Davis’ career, $10,975 of that coming within the last two years.
Davis also attended several town-hall style events focusing on agricultural issues to gather input on the upcoming Farm Bill, a contentious topic among farming communities. Several of these stops were hosted on the farms of campaign donors. These were called the "Farm Bill Listening Tour" and "Tool Shed Talks." Three such examples occurred at Heyen, Dunkirk, and Schetter farms, all of which are Davis’ donors.
On June 5th, 2017, Rep. Davis held a town hall style event hosted by Heyen Farms in Gillespie, Illinois. The stop was a part of Davis’ “Farm Bill listening tour.” Heyen Farms is owned by William Heyen, who has donated $500 directly to Rep. Davis’ campaign and $1,200 to Republican electoral efforts. Davis posted about the event on his twitter after the event.
On March 11th, 2016, Rep. Davis held a town hall style event hosted by Christian County Farm Bureau (CCFB) at Dunkirk Farms. The stop was a part of Davis’ "Tool Shed Talks." The Dunkirk family has donated $1,990 to Davis’ campaign funds over the course of Davis’ career. Gary Dunkirk sits on the Board of Directors and the Board of Trustees of the CCFB. Other members of the CCFB Board of Directors and Trustees have contributed to Davis’ campaign. Dean McWard has donated $740 to Davis’ campaign since the start of his career and sits on the Board of Directors and Board of Trustees of the CCFB. Nancy Handegan donated $250 to Davis’ campaign and $900 to other Republican electoral efforts. Handegan sits on the Board of Directors of CCFB. Davis commemorated the event with a tweet
The final stop on the "Tool Shed Talks" tour was hosted by Schaffer Family Farms of Brighton, IL, on March 14, 2016. The Schetter Family has contributed $775 to Davis’ campaign over the course of his career. Davis tweeted about this event afterward as well.
CU Indivisible notes that these are but a few examples of Davis' rewarding donors with a level of representation not afforded (or affordable) to his non-donating constituency. You can find this growing list of examples on their website.
There's a lot you can say about a Congressman like Rodney Davis, much of which has already been said on this site. However, these new revelations paint an even darker picture of an increasingly unpopular representative.
CU Indivisible summarized their findings and disappointment with Rep. Davis' actions like so:
“CU Indivisible strongly believes that open, public communication with our elected officials should not require a donation to campaign coffers."
I believe that Republican or Democrat, that's a tough one to disagree with.