Luria, Taylor square off on record of helping constituents

Posted at 12:42 PM, Sep 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-11 16:49:54-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Rep. Elaine Luria (D-2nd District) says her office has completed 287 constituent claims during her term in office, a number her opponent says is woefully inadequate.

"The numbers don't lie. It's not just Scott Taylor saying that. The numbers are right there," said Scott Taylor, her Republican opponent who is trying to win back his old House of Representatives seat.

The topic has been become a campaign issue, with both campaigns running ads about constituent services. Luria's highlights handwritten notes she writes to people who've reached out to her office. Taylor's features a woman who says she voted for Luria in 2018, but then says Luria's office didn't help sort out an issue she had with her small business.

This week Luria hosted a virtual round table with people her office has helped, including a mother who needed help getting passports to travel to Mexico to get her daughter medical treatment. Luria's office helped expedite getting them passports.

"It's really overwhelming," said an emotional Nancy Gamble of Virginia Beach. "It was a big deal for us and we thank you so much."

"These stories are really personal and I think it's really a rewarding part of being a representative to know our team can help," said Luria.

Taylor says his team completed about 1,400 claims by this point in his term. Luria said her staff only counts specific cases where someone reaches out to her office, a privacy waiver is completed, and then then her staff is able to get answers or results for them from a federal agency.

"There's not set standard as to how congressional offices count their cases, so we have not padded our numbers at all," said Luria, adding that some Congressional offices count lower levels of interaction like a constituent getting a tour of the Capitol. "We truly are counting different numbers."

Taylor fired back, saying she hasn't done enough. "She's trying to explain away incompetence. I'm telling you the numbers she's putting out there are legit and they're really bad," said Taylor.

By comparison, Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-7th District) says her office has completed more than 1,300 cases. News 3 asked how her team counts cases.

“A closed constituent case means a Seventh District resident reached out to Abigail’s office and asked for a helping hand — and then Abigail’s team responded with assistance. The majority of these cases represent when an individual has completed a privacy release and Abigail’s team has then worked with a federal agency to try to resolve an outstanding issue. Several of these closed cases also represent when a member of Abigail’s team has done significant work to resolve an issue for a constituent that might be unrelated to the work of federal agencies. We absolutely do not consider every staff answer or response to a query as a case," a spokesman for Spanberger said.

Voters will decide on the issue on November 3.