While Congressman Greg Gianforte was visiting with business owners to explain how the Trump administration’s tax cuts will benefit them, he also took time to speak with two representatives of an activist group, Forward Montana.

One of the three individuals was dressed in a duck costume to promote public lands, when Gianforte stepped forward to introduce himself. They spoke for about five minutes.

Erin Miller, the Missoula Field Manager for Forward Montana explained her reasons for being at the Tax Cut Bus event.

“We help young people to be empowered and get involved in politics and government and be empowered to make those decisions themselves,” said Miller. “We help young people get registered to vote and we also hold elected officials accountable for what they say they’re going to do. A really important thing for elected representatives to do is to talk with their constituents on a very regular basis. We noted that Mr., Gianforte wasn’t holding a lot of public hearings, and even when he did in the Bitterroot, he didn’t take any public comment.”

Miller described her conversation with Gianforte.

“He said he was out and about quite often throughout the state, but his events are not highly publicized and even this one I had to dig into Facebook to find,” she said. “His telephone town meetings are not super helpful, there’s not much time to really dive into issues.”

Rebecca Mathison, the woman in the duck costume, said what people really want from their elected officials is personal contact and the time to ask questions face to face.

“I would really like to have more in-person town halls with a lot of public comment because with my experience with Forward Montana, you feel so much more empowered and involved in the political system when you can actually meet the people who are making decisions on your behalf,” said Mathison. “It also helps to humanize your elected officials because we often forget that elected officials are people and getting to have a conversation with someone is so awesome, and I want more constituents to have access to that. I don’t want to have to be in a duck costume to get to talk to my elected officials.”

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