Ron Johnson: "I Do Orders of Magnitude More" Outreach than Feingold Did | WisCommunity

Ron Johnson: "I Do Orders of Magnitude More" Outreach than Feingold Did

Former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold was known far and wide being for staying in touch with his constituents.  He came home to Wisconsin every weekend; he had listening sessions in every county, every year; and he had five Senate offices set up across Wisconsin.  

His successor, U.S. Senator Ron Johnson?  Not so much.

Johnson bought a house in D.C.; he permits only a handful of secretive townhall meetings every year (he doesn't allow anyone to record them); and he maintains only two Senate offices in Wisconsin, both on the East side of the state. 

This stark contrast hasn't been lost on Wisconsinites.  On one of the rare occasions when Johnson ventured out to meet with constituents, one participant challenged him on it and remarked that he should come to every county, every year like Feingold used to, , "We see you on TV all the time but where the work gets done is in a room like this."  

Johnson responded that he recently finished his 34th "telephone town hall-meeting" and claimed that over 400,000 Wisconsinites have participated.  He then boasted that his telephonic town hall-meetings have expanded his constituent outreach "by orders of magnitude" over what Feingold was able to achieve in face-to-face meetings. 

OK.  Let's step into the nerdary and break this down. 

There are three aspects of this claim that beg ridicule:  1) That 400,000 Wisconsin residents have participated in his telephone calls; 2) That these events are actually "town hall meetings." If we humor the Senator and accept the 400,000 number, that would mean approximately 12,000 people are calling in to each of his 34 conference calls-- that's not a "town hall meeting," that's thousands of people listening to Johnson pontificate. 3) That the reach of his telephone town hall meetings is "orders of magnitude" larger than what Feingold acheived via his face-to face listening sessions-- assuming the minimum of Johnson claim, two orders of magnitude would mean that he has done 100 times more constituent outreach than what Feingold acheived over the same time. 

One hundred times more?

Putting aside the absurdity of comparing these glorified phone messages to a face-to-face Feingold listening session, it is simply nonsense to suggest that Feingold only met with a handful of people every year. Let's do the math:  Approximately 50 people attended each of Feingold's 72 listening sessions every year, or about 3,600 every year.  And if we figure that Johnson has been in the Senate for four years, that would mean that if Feingold were still in the Senate, he would have given 14,400 constituents the opportunity to personally ask their Senator a question or give him an earful. 

And these were just Feingold's listening sessions.  Feingold also regularly attended community functions, met with constituent groups, and was someone you were likely to run into at county fairs and dairy breakfasts.  

The same simply cannot be said for Ron Johnson, who spends more time on special interest junkets and meeting with billionaires than he spends on his "constituent outreach."  

Johnson claiming to be a hundred times better than Feingold at constituent outreach is like Anchorage claiming to be a hundred times warmer than Miami or Jay Leno claiming to be hundred times funnier than Johnny Carson:  Some things are just self-evident and constituent outreach is one of them.

We either see you or we don't and, Senator Johnson, we don't see you. 



January 5, 2015 - 11:30am