...Or Is Darlene Missing Something??

OK. My household didn't underwrite Darlene Hooley's 2006 campaign, but we contributed a little over $100 to it. We did so even though we don't live in her district because we were appalled by the kind of nasty dishonest campaign that was being waged against her by those SwiftBoat bastards at the Economic Freedom Fund.

I also figured that a little donation might entitle me to communicate with her office on occasion. I was wrong.

Last week I sent Congresswoman Hooley a request that she support and perhaps sign on as a co-sponsor to Congressman Jason Altmire's HR 3793. The bill would require that the Pentagon pay their full enlistment or re-enlistment bonuses to service members who are unable to complete their tours of duty due to an injury directly related to their service. She's got an excellent record on behalf of American military members active and vet alike. When I finished my carefully worded email and hit the "send" button a message popped up on my screen informing me that if I lived outside the Congresswoman's district my email would be forwarded to my Representative.

Then I called the Congresswoman's West Linn office on Friday after Thanksgiving. It was closed for the holidays. I left a message suggesting that if Ms. Hooley was going to forward my emails to Congressman Wu, perhaps she'd be kind enough to do likewise with my contribution.

I have yet to get a response. I'm not holding my breath.


Anonymous said...

I can certainly understand your frustration with the situation. Having been a former Congressional staffer I hope I can offer a different perspective that will shed some light on the situation for you. Communications into Congressional offices (mail, phone, fax, and especially email) have become extremely overwhelming and as such most members of congress (R's and D's) have established systems that only allow folks to send emails if they are IN that member's district. What you have to realize is that Ms. Hooley has over 700,000 constituents that she represents and in all honesty should probably get first priority from her. Although you are a supporter of hers (by way of political contribution), she does not technically represent you. I don't think the public at large understands the volume of correspondence that members of congress receive. It's a daunting task to attempt to keep up with the volume from constituents let alone from those that send mail/email from out of district. I think the public has a misconception about the size of members' staff and I think it's important for people to know that you are talking about an extremely small staff with, in most cases, 1-2 people charged w/the task of keeping up with the incoming correspondence -- including the thousands of daily emails. Like I said, it's a daunting task made all the more difficult with the ease of simply sending an email. I don't think you should take this personal or as an affront. It's simply one of the ways members try to address the concerns of their constituents in a timely matter. It's not perfect by any means, but restricting incoming emails to constituents is something that members can do to deal with the volume.

Larry McD said...

That's a very nice explanation and, I suppose, perfectly legitimate. I admit to being spoiled. When I lived in California my Congresswoman was Lynn Woolsey but my Representative was Mike Thompson, whose campaigns I contributed to regularly with whom I spoke personally at least annually, and many of whose staff knew me by my first name...

I don't know that they still are, but Mike's people were famous for their ability to whip thru junk mail to get to the serious communications. I know Congresswoman Hooley has a reputation as more of a housekeeper than policy setter but I'd heard such good things about her lower level staff that I expected more of them than they are probably able to deliver.

...Or Is This Cost Way Too Freakin' High???

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