Politics & Government

Lindsey Graham isn’t in Beaufort County. Town hall organizers plan cardboard stand-in

Three Beaufort County groups are planning a town hall Thursday calling attention to the absence of Sen. Lindsey Graham.

The event, dubbed an “Empty Chair Town Hall,” is being sponsored by Indivisible Beaufort, Lowcountry Indivisible and Sun City Indivisible. It is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. Thursday in Pinckney Hall at Sun City.

A news release from the organizers says about 300 residents have sent in RSVPs. It says Graham was invited but did not respond.

“Senator Graham has evaded meeting with his constituents during the Senate’s recess. This town hall will hold him accountable,” the news release says.

Kevin Bishop, a spokesman for Graham, called the event a “sham town hall” and a “stunt.” In an emailed statement, Bishop said Graham’s office informed event organizers in June that he would not participate.

Bishop’s statement says Graham is meeting with “thousands of South Carolinians in every region of the state” over the August break.

“The members of Indivisible are extreme liberals out of touch with the majority of South Carolinians,” the statement says.

Graham, a Republican, has represented South Carolina in the U.S. Senate since 2003. After withdrawing from a contentious and crowded 2016 presidential primary, he has been an ardent supporter of President Donald Trump.

He last visited Beaufort County for a public event when he spoke to Hilton Head Realtors in October 2018, Bishop said.

The town hall will feature a life-sized cardboard cutout of Graham. Those in the audience will be able to ask questions and make statements that will be sent to the senator.

According to the news release, there will be “dramatic readings of Graham’s flip-flops on issues” and “a review of his bad-for-South Carolina voting record.”

Lowcountry Indivisible’s website says the organization takes its inspiration from The Indivisible Guide, created as a response to the rise of the Tea Party and in opposition to Trump’s policies.

“Our members act to engage our elected officials and make our voices heard to advance progressive agendas,” says a statement on the Indivisible Beaufort website.

Reservations for the town hall are “a must,” according to Lowcountry Indivisible’s website. Participants should email Suncityindivisible@gmail.com to make a reservation and send your name to pamsuncityindivisible@gmail.com for a gate pass.

Visitors to Sun City should enter through the main gate off U.S. 278 and tell the guard they are attending the town hall, the news release says.

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Lisa Wilson is a reporter for The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette. The 25-year newsroom veteran has worked for papers in Louisiana and Mississippi and is happy to call the Lowcountry home.