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  1. #1
    Subject Matter Moron
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Alaska

    Advice for those of you writing your Congressional delegation...

    I spent six years working on Capitol Hill. One as a staff aide for a particular Senate committee, two as a legislative correspondent for a Senator, and three as a legislative aide for the same Senator.

    For those of you who don't know, a legislative corespondent (LC) is basically a fancy title for a young twenty-something just out of college who receives the letters and emails that you write, and is usually the person who writes you back. Generally, Congressmen have one or two LC's who do all of their letters for every issue, while Senators have a whole team of LC's that handle letters for certain issues that they're assigned (IE: a military LC, a healthcare LC, an education LC, etc.). Here's a few things that I picked up as an LC that might help you should you choose to write your Congressional delegation:

    * The "boss" will almost never read your letter directly unless they know you personally. But he/she will likely ask their LC's if they've been getting any mail on certain issues. My boss used to ask if we did almost daily whenever there was a hot issue being discussed on the Hill, and would want to know what percentage of it was for or against the issue. Believe me, if a majority of the letters they are receiving are against gun control legislation, they will hear about it.

    * Don't send form letters. Form letters are letters that special interest groups will send in on your behalf. You'll usually get them in an email and all you have to do is type in your name and hit 'send.' They all look identical, and the staff knows that you put absolutely zero thought into the issue, and therefore will assume that you probably don't give that big of a shit. When the boss asks if he's getting any mail on a certain issue, he often asks how much of it is form letters, and how much of it is real letters. Real letters (while rarely read by the member of Congress) are still a lot more powerful in the grand scheme of things.

    * Don't use snail mail. Everything that gets sent into Capitol Hill has to go through the Capitol Police and is scanned for bombs and anthrax. It usually takes weeks for it to get to its destination, and more often than not, the issue is long over by the time it gets there.

    * Don't be a dick. The kid who reads your letter makes about $25K a year and lives in one of the most expensive cities in the country. He spends all day getting yelled out by assholes, and he's just as likely to toss your letter to the side and forget about it for a few weeks as he is to respond to it. Be professional, but make your concerns heard.

    * Keep it short and sweet. Remember, the Senator/Congressman will most likely never see your letter, and the guy who will see it spends all day reading long, drawn out sob stories that basically all say the same thing. He doesn't need your life story. A few sentences will do just fine. Let him know you care enough to write your own letter, but keep it short enough to not bore him to death.

    Keep in mind, this is what MY old office did. Other offices do things differently, and some offices couldn't care less about mail one way or the other (Boxer and Feinstein were notorious for not giving two shits about their mail or phone calls). If you do have a few mintues to spare, however, take the time to write in (especially if your member is a Democrat). It can, and often does make a difference.

    Anyways, I hope this helps.
    Last edited by F-Trooper05; 12-21-2012 at 04:28 AM.
    "A good shooter with a weak body and weak mind will lose against one who has the physical ability to crush him, and the mental ability to do it repeatedly"
    -Kyle Defoor

  2. #2
    STAFF
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Canada
    Probably some of the best advice a person could get, and it applies up here in Canada too, although I think our snail mail is more effective and timely as it doesn't go through the same drawn out process yours does.
    ...and to think today you just have fangs

    Rob Engh
    BC, Canada

  3. #3
    Site Supporter
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Texas
    Thank you for the information, this is very helpful.

    I do have a question. You say to not use snail mail. If wish wish to write them a letter, what other options do we have?

    Do you just recommend email or fax? I have been calling my reps.

    I'm working on a letter to all my elected reps, from the county on up. But if it will take weeks for them to get it, I'd rather find some way to get it on the front burner.

    Thanks again.

  4. #4
    Subject Matter Moron
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Alaska
    Email works just as good as anything (at least it did in our office). All the offices have software that loads all of the email into a file that each LC accesses on their computer. Anything that gets sent in via mail or fax is scanned and loaded into the same system as the email, so at the end of the day it's all going to the same place.

    When you go to email your member through their Senate or House website, it might ask you what your issue is regarding, and give you a scroll down list of options to choose from. That's essentially to sort out what LC your letter is going to get sent to.
    "A good shooter with a weak body and weak mind will lose against one who has the physical ability to crush him, and the mental ability to do it repeatedly"
    -Kyle Defoor

  5. #5
    F-Trooper05 - Great posts!

    Quote Originally Posted by F-Trooper05 View Post
    Anything that gets sent in via mail or fax is scanned and loaded into the same system as the email, so at the end of the day it's all going to the same place.
    For those that care, you can read about that here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...-2004Feb4.html

    Quote Originally Posted by F-Trooper05 View Post
    Be professional, but make your concerns heard.
    This is sound advise, and it works in more areas than writing your Congressman!
    Last edited by JV; 12-21-2012 at 02:31 AM.

  6. #6
    Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Locked In The Ninja Closet
    F-Trooper05,

    Thanks for the timely advice. I am gearing up to start telling Congress what I think.

    I do have a couple of questions since you seem to have some insight on this:

    I had planned on emailing or faxing to as many members of the House and Senate as possible. Is there any point in sending messages to Reps and Senators other than my Reps and Senators? Or is that not useful? I could just not mention that I am not in their district...

    I had planned on emailing or faxing basically every day until the big legislative push is over. Do they keep track of who is writing them and will they see that it is the same person over and over again? Is it better to just email or fax them once?

    Thanks very much.

  7. #7
    Site Supporter
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    West Virginia
    Thank you for the advice. It's very important to know how to effectively communicate our position. Remember, we are dealing with an issue that has alot of emotion tied to it right know and we have to be polite, informed and sincere.

  8. #8
    Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Ohio
    I wrote my Democratic congressman. He gave me the polite equivalent of the finger. Didn't vote for him anyway, and he probably knows it.

  9. #9
    Subject Matter Moron
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Alaska
    Quote Originally Posted by OrigamiAK View Post
    F-Trooper05,

    Thanks for the timely advice. I am gearing up to start telling Congress what I think.

    I do have a couple of questions since you seem to have some insight on this:

    I had planned on emailing or faxing to as many members of the House and Senate as possible. Is there any point in sending messages to Reps and Senators other than my Reps and Senators? Or is that not useful? I could just not mention that I am not in their district...

    I had planned on emailing or faxing basically every day until the big legislative push is over. Do they keep track of who is writing them and will they see that it is the same person over and over again? Is it better to just email or fax them once?

    Thanks very much.

    Good questions.

    Our policy was to toss letters that weren't from our constituents. There's just too much mail being sent in to address people from other states. You can give a bogus address if you want, but we usually knew when people did that.

    And yes, everything you send your member is on file, and your correspondence history can be pulled up with the click of a mouse.
    "A good shooter with a weak body and weak mind will lose against one who has the physical ability to crush him, and the mental ability to do it repeatedly"
    -Kyle Defoor

  10. #10
    Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Locked In The Ninja Closet
    Quote Originally Posted by F-Trooper05 View Post
    And yes, everything you send your member is on file, and your correspondence history can be pulled up with the click of a mouse.
    Sorry, I should clarify; I'm not concerned about my communications being kept, I meant 'would they disregard communications beyond the first one and give the additional messages no weight because they know they are from the same person?'

    Thanks!

 

 

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