Bailout: Having Difficulties Emailing Your Congresscritter?

I will be incensed if this accusation turns out to be true, but this kid has her doubts: According to VoteNoBailout.org, members of the US House are shutting down email access for the duration of the bailout battle. The group speculates that our elected representatives are tired of hearing from their angry constituents:

We have just learned that the House of Representatives is turning off their emails for the duration of the debate on the Grand Theft Bailout bill. The House web site, which handles incoming email traffic, is going to block the incoming email traffic that goes to congressional representatives. 

Congress has acknowledged that it is receiving millions of emails from the people of the United States, all opposing this theft of $700 billion to be handed to the richest bankers. The first attempt to pass this legislation ended in a resounding defeat. This came as a shock to the Bush Administration, the banks and Wall Street, who are used to directing the country regardless of the will of the people. So what is Congress doing before going back in session on Thursday to make another attempt at this wholesale theft? They are limiting the volume of emails that have been flooding them from VoteNoBailout.org and people all across the country.

VoteNoBailout.org is urging all of its members and supporters to call Congress, to email them at “off peak” hours, and to come directly to the U.S. Capitol on Thursday morning at 10 am so our voices can be heard at the People’s Demonstration/Speakout. Congress can run but they can’t hide from the wrath of the people. We won’t let them.

Thursday’s demonstration will take place at 10 am on the South side of the Capitol at Independence Ave. and New Jersey Avenues SE. For more information, go to VoteNoBailout.org

A check of the latest news offers reports that email is indeed experiencing difficulties in reaching Capitol Hill, however, the explanation is that enormous traffic overwhelmed Internet servers there. That sounds reasonable, given the volatility of the issue. 

From the Tennesseean:

The high volume of e-mail and other postings essentially shut down the U.S. House of Representatives system for receiving constituent comments. The same happened to the Library of Congress Web site, which posts the roll call votes for the House and Senate.

“This continues a trend that we have seen all week,” said Claude Chafin, communications director to U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Brentwood.

“The congresswoman has received above 1,600 e-mails, and 80 percent are against the bailout. It’s rare that an issue on the floor of the house has such a direct and immediate impact on constituents.”

As the votes were tallied in the House on Monday, the e-mail system slowed and then stopped, Chafin said. In Blackburn’s office, staff continued to take calls and receive in-house e-mails.

DigitalJournal.com reports:

The U.S. House of Representatives are limiting the amount of emails their constituents can send to individual House members due to the volume of emails coming in regarding the “bailout”. They fear too many will crash the House web site.


A spokesman for the spokesman for the Chief Administrative Office (CAO), Jeff Ventura, who is responsible for the House web site and email services says, “We were trying to figure out a way that the House.gov website wouldn’t completely crash.” 

To that end, the CAO sent out a letter on Tuesday morning stating his office had placed a limit on the number of emails that could be sent using the “Write Your Representative” function found at the House of Representatives web site. The limit would be in effect during peak email traffic times according to The Hill

So far it appears there is no anti-constituent conspiracy (well, beyond that of putting Wall Street ahead of Main Street on the priority list) — just technological limitations imposed to prevent system overloading. Reasonable people should understand that. My suggestion should you receive a “try back at a later time” message: Take the advice given and be patient. Just because politicians are typically an oily lot does not mean we should assume that they are refusing to take our calls and emails. Even pols are smart enough to realize that, for them, ignoring us would be career suicide.

It isn’t fair to expect the worst of politicians always. And it isn’t nice — or helpful for one’s own credibility — to make wild accusations against anyone. However, if VoteNoBailout’s charges turn out to be true, we’ll let you know.

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