Kline takes cue from Bush. He is the decider.
According to constituents who have been pushing for Kline's "Town Hall meeting", Kline Chief of Staff Steven Sutton says Kline doesn't trust the League of Women Voters to moderate such an event. Sutton also said he doesn't trust the group that has gathered 700 signatures asking for a dialog on Iraq, calling them "liberal ideologues". In the past, Kline's office has revealed that it maintains files on constituents (sometimes called an "enemies list" ). One can only assume that Sutton's assessment was based upon comparing that list to the petition signatures.
Kline has been distrustful of "neutral" moderation of any public discussion he's had on Iraq. In one of the few radio broadcast debates he had last election, he had conservative talk show host-"Mr. Right" Jason Lewis moderate. Lewis spent most of the time debating Kline's opponent instead of moderating.
For this forum, Sutton said Kline was worried that the microphones would be monopolized by people who were critical of his positions. So instead, Kline will pick who talks and what questions will be asked. Sutton said Kline promised to not to only call on his supporters.
Of course, Kline's office is already working hard to make sure he has a lot of supporters there. As previously noted, he is recruiting members of military families who are on his supporter list to come to the 7pm April 3 meeting at Lakeville South High School. Some Republican groups are already blogging about how they will be there early, presumably to have seats next to the microphones.
Sutton also refused to answer in writing any of the questions the group had submitted to Kline's office. Instead, Sutton would only give verbal answers, limiting the ability of anyone to document where Kline stands on the issues.
Sutton's rationalization was that if they replied in writing to these questions, they'd have to do the same for other questions they get. This could explain the large number of constituents who complain that they write Congressman Kline, but don't even get a form letter response. Of course it was Kline's office who asked for the questions to be submitted in writing as a way of shooing the group out of its district office.
Sutton himself is apparently paranoid as well, refusing to give his email address to the group's leaders.
Since the group asking for the meeting has some members that would like to see Rep. Kline defeated in 2008, there is some rational for Kline not trusting the group. However, it appears Kline also does not trust a time-honored democratic tradition of open discussion about the issues. That distrust of open, frank, conversation is very disturbing.