By Bret Hayworth, Sioux City Journal
SIOUX CITY — As he begins a ninth term in the U.S. House, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, has done a sharp veer in his approach and now plans to hold town hall meetings throughout 2019.
In a Friday release, King announced he would hold 39 public meetings, or one in each of the counties in the Iowa 4th Congressional District. King’s release gave the days the meetings will be held, with the venues to be announced later.
King in summer 2017 told the Journal he had no plans to hold town hall meetings, the sort of events many federal lawmakers schedule in the weekslong August recess and other times to hear from constituents.
King was holding fewer town halls than he did in earlier years, saying he meets people in the district in other ways.
He also said he was worried about town hall violence, after the shooting of a Republican lawmaker at a congressional softball practice.
“Just to put it bluntly, I do tele-town hall meetings, where we will have thousands of people on the phone. I do meetings all over the place, with people that request them, that have policy issues that they want to discuss with community leaders,” King said.
“But in this climate, to advertise town hall meetings, just so that protesters have a forum, just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”
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The congressman in March 2017 also told the Journal paid protesters were coming to town halls nationally.
In his release Friday, King encouraged people to “save the date” to come speak with him on issues in his wide round of public meetings.
“Town hall meetings are an opportunity for members of the public to express their concerns to me, and for me to deliver my constituents an overview of the work I am doing in Washington on their behalf. During my time in Congress, I have visited all 382 towns in the 4th District, and I look forward to holding a town hall meeting in all 39 of our District’s counties this year,” King said.
The meetings will be held from Jan. 24 through Dec. 14. The release did not explain the reason for King’s change in approach on holding town hall events.
King, who is from Kiron, won re-election in November with margin of 3 percentage points margin over J.D. Scholten, a Democrat from Sioux City. It was the closest win for King in his career of congressional races, which dates to 2002.
King is the senior member of the four U.S. House members from Iowa.