Despite criticism he’s keeping details of his schedule private to avoid protestors, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley says he hasn’t changed protocol in 36 years.
Iowa’s senior Republican senator heads the Senate Judiciary Committee, and has been highly criticized for refusing to hold a confirmation hearing for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.
The senate is currently on recess, so Grassley is back in Iowa meeting with constituents. The senator has not made his full schedule public, which Democrats say is an attempt to elude unhappy constituents.
"Why is Grassley only doing public meetings in the most conservative area of the state, and why were these other events kept secret?," asks the Democratic National Committee in an e-mailed statement.
But Grassley says it's always been his policy to let his hosts decide how to publicize visits.
"It's been my practice to advertise open town meetings, and when I'm a guest of a Rotary Club, or a guest of a Kiwanis Club, or a guest of a hospital, or a guest of a factory, or a guest of a high school. I’m their guest, I let them set the rules," says Grassley.
Grassley scheduled a total of three town hall meetings over the recess, with an additional 16 Q&A sessions at various schools, businesses and service organizations. None of the Q&As are listed on his public calendar.
Grassley spokeswoman Beth Levine says during the same recess last year, Grassley held four town hall meetings and 15 Q&A sessions. She says his 2015 schedule was listed the "exact same way" as his 2016 schedule.