Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Kaptur: 'I'm not subject to FOIA'

Earlier this month I made a FOIA request of Rep. Marcy Kaptur to find out the numbers of calls for/against the cap and trade bill.

While I was aware that congressional reps claim constituent communications as confidential, I thought that the numbers of calls was a public record, since revealing the numbers, percentages or ratio does not, in any way whatsoever, reveal who contacted the rep nor their specific communications.

Several others across the nation have made this same request, including Earl who blogs at Kansas Meadowlark and Skip who blogs at GraniteGrok and has a radio show.

Our efforts have not been fruitful. Yesterday I received the type-written response to my request. I received an email copy of the letter over the weekend. The letter denies my request as 1) members of Congress are not subject to FOIA and 2) communications with constituents "are considered confidential and are generally not made public without the constituent's request." Accordingly, Rep. Kaptur "respectfully declines to the produce the information you have requested."

Unlike the other members of Congress who responded, Marcy did not answer my request. My answer came from the U.S. House of Representatives Office of the General Counsel:

So they 'generally' don't give out this information? No confidentiality between a constituent and their representative will be violated if Kaptur tells us how many calls or the percentage/ratio of 'for' and 'against' she got on this issue.

Why doesn't she want us to know?

Congress has again exempted themselves from the laws they impose on others, making FOIA apply to the executive branch of government but not the legislative. Furthermore, how can we hold them accountable to actually represent their district if we cannot ever find out how their district instructs them to vote on specific issues?

Are we just supposed to trust them when they tell us they're doing what we want?

This has to change!


Mad Jack said...

Are we just supposed to trust them when they tell us they're doing what we want?

I cannot remember a time when I trusted an elected representative to do anything that was actually in my personal best interest or that would ultimately benefit my situation, let alone anything I wanted.

First of all, how would they ever know what it was I wanted? I've never been able to get one on the phone, with the sole exception of one M. Thurber (no kidding, I did call once and you answered). I've written letters and been told months later via form letter that my comments were important to the government critter and that my comments would be considered carefully. I don't really think the critter even read my letter. Critters probably get a lot of mail, and mine is just one of many.

Secondly, my elected representative (AKA my government critter) has won a popularity contest, not a contest in civic and governmental duties, ethics and responsibilities. There are no reasonable qualifications for office. Many critters are attorneys in real life, as if that is supposed to instill some kind of confidence in the poor civilians. Let me enlighten you about a hard fact of life. I've met attorneys that are dumber than a box of rocks, and judges that I wouldn't trust with a burnt out match. I note that in most of these cases their arrogance is inversely proportional to their intellect.

Finally, the critter does not have to pass a criminal background check or a drug test. If the critter runs afoul of the law, special handling and dispensation are expected and granted. I mutely point to Ohio Supreme Court Justice Alice Robie Resnick and her infamous DUI charge that was caught on tape and showed Her Honor so hammered that any five year old could have spotted it. As I recall it, she was stopped, drove away and was stopped again. If I had pulled this, I would have been tasered, slapped around, cuffed, stuffed and thrown into the drunk tank for 24 hours.

Our elected officials really and truly don't care about the individual citizens and haven't for a long time (if they ever did). What they care about is getting re-elected, expanding the size and scope of government and collecting more tax dollars.

Hooda Thunkit (Dave Zawodny) said...


"Why doesn't she want us to know?"

Perhaps because it doesn't fit with her (and Obama's) agenda.

I would not be surprised if several attempts are made to overturn the wholesale congressional exemption that usually gets put into any bill that they pass.

This elitist crap has got to be stopped.

And while this change may take place soon, it should be accompanied with legislation putting the "honorable reps. into social security (instead of their own private pension plans) and an 80-20 Medical coverage plan, like many of the rest of us...

James said...

I'm not surprised. Maggie is a Republican. At least someone did this. I sure didn't expect the Blade or the Toledo Free Press to do it.

Maggie Thurber said...

Brian - thank you very much! I hadn't even thought of that...

Desiree85 said...

I wonder when in August Marcy will be back in our area? I wonder if she has any town hall type events planned? My husband called her office to ask if she planned on her annual showing at the Birmingham Ethnic Festival. Her minions told him she wouldn't attend this year. She's probably afraid of the Hunky Turkey that would be thrown at her.

How about if we organize our own government intervention by surrounding the Maritime Building where Marcy's office is located? She needs to to accountable to ALL constiuents. She believes she is untouchable.

I say we organize and surround her!

Maggie Thurber said...

Desiree - I called her office today and left a message on voice mail for her scheduler. I asked if she had any plans for town halls or forums in her district during the August recess.

That was just after 9 a.m. this morning...haven't heard back yet, but I'll keep on it.

As for organizing - have at it!

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