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Wednesday August 24, 2011 | 04:29 PM

Amid outside group and media reports about U.S. House members across the country bailing on having town hall meetings to listen to constituents during the August recess, Maine’s Democratic House members say they’re getting plenty of constituent feedback without them.

Town hall meetings took a raucous turn during the summer of 2009, when Tea Party activists heated them up, and that trend continued last summer after the passage of the health care bill.

Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree, who was first elected to her 1st district seat in 2008, has never held town hall meetings as a regular part of her in-district events, said Willy Ritch, Pingree’s spokesman. But Pingree “does interact with constituents in a lot of other ways,” Ritch said.

Ritch cited Pingree’s appearance last week on an hour-long radio talk show on statewide radio where she took questions directly from listeners, and her visit to a crowded Portland Farmers Market as examples of her seeking unfiltered views from constituents.

Next week, Pingree is attending several meetings on transportation issues that will feature a total of about 75 participants, Ritch said.

“These types of events are exactly what Congresswoman Pingree has done during every recess since taking office,” Ritch said.

Meanwhile, Rep. Mike Michaud, D-2nd, is concluding a tour of manufacturing facilities in his district as part of his recess plan to “visit towns and businesses and walk Maine Streets,” said John Graham, a Michaud spokesman. Congressman Michaud likes to go out to visit people, not necessarily make them come to him.”

Graham cited the example of Michaud’s expected attendance Saturday at Greenville’s 175th anniversary celebration.

There, “He'll get the chance to speak with dozens and dozens of people and it's his experience that Maine people do not hesitate to tell him exactly what they are thinking,” Graham said.

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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