Congressman Mike Conaway did not shy away from challenging questions by the attendees of the Brownwood Chamber of Commerce town hall.
Conaway gave a brief legislative update regarding progress on to reform Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program before turning over the town hall to the audience, whom sought his insight on everything from his role in the ongoing investigation of President Donald Trump to foreign policy regarding Iran, Syria and North Korea.
“Coming out to Brownwood, I get to talk to the salt of the earth folks that are deeply concerned about our country,” Conaway said. “Even the lady that was a democrat is deeply concerned about our country. That’s just the job. If I can’t answer hard questions, then I need to be doing something else.”
Financial benefits from privileged information
The aforementioned democrat grilled Conaway regarding a recently published article by The Intercept, accusing him and other republicans of using privileged information for financial gains. According to the article, Conaway’s spouse purchased stocks from UnitedHealth the day legislators moved forward with initiatives to scale back the Affordable Care Act. Another accusation, according to an article by Politico, regarded his purchase of stock from a nuclear energy firm, who stood to benefit following the passage of a 2015 bill placing a nuclear waste storage facility in Andrews.
Conaway admitted his wife purchasing stocks the day lawmakers approved healthcare reforms, but said most of his investments are made in a blind trust managed by financial advisors he rarely contacts.
“Where was the legislation associated with that investment? I’m not on that committee,” Conaway said. “… They are professionally managed accounts that I do not have anything to do with. They are managed by somebody else that I don’t talk to. They don’t know me and I don’t know them. They buy stocks on behalf of everybody that is in that account and each individual gets a slice of the stock.”
The Trump investigation
Conaway said the house investigation into potential collusion between Trump and Russian government operatives ended after the committee he spearheaded found no conclusive evidence linking Trump to Russian government officials. He said the main difference of conflicting reports issued by Republicans and Democrats is the amount of redactions in the Republican report.
“They hardly redacted the Democrat report at all because it makes the FBI and Justice Department look good,” Conaway said. “We shipped it out as is and we’re going to continue to bang on the intelligence groups and tell them ‘this does not need to be classified.’ As we get those chunks out, we will continue to release those into the public arena to support those findings ... They way over classified. That’s always been a criticism of that system. These guys try to steal secrets and they do not like letting their secrets out. I get that.”
Changes to S.N.A.P.
Conaway announced reforms to the S.N.A.P. program and said he will call for a currently unenforced law requiring those who receive S.N.A.P., and are physically and mentally capable of employment, to work at least 20 hours a week or participate in a state-run work training program to continue receiving S.N.A.P.
“If you’re a work capable person, 18 to 59 and you’re not a single care giver of a 6 year old or physically or mentally disabled, I.E. work capable, and you are on SNAP, then here are some things you are going to have to do to help yourself. We’re going to help you, if you’re willing to help yourself. One work 20 hours a week. Or participate in a state-run workforce training program,” Conaway said.