E-mail campaigns defend their methods

WASHINGTON: Many grassroots and Web-based advocacy groups are

responsible for flooding Congress with such high volumes of e-mail over

the past few years that members now largely ignore them altogether,

according to a study by the Congress Online Project released last

week.



However, a number of CEOs of the groups criticized said the problem was

Congress' fault. Dick Morris, president of Vote.com, proudly defended

the high volume of e-mail his firm generated. 'Vote.com is responsible

for half, or 45 million, of the e-mails Congress received last year. I

find it sad that a computer system that's capable of sending a nuclear

missile into the men's room of the Kremlin should find a few e-mails

burdensome.'



He added, 'I also think it's ironic that a Congress drowning in special

interest money, and lobbyists and political action committees, finds

contact from its own constituents onerous.'



According to Brad Fitch, director of the Congressional Management

Foundation and one of the people responsible for the study, e-mail from

non-constituents is indeed the problem. He explained how the study found

that while an e-mail from a legislator's district is likely to get

attention, it was sites that encourage 'spamming Congress' that are

causing the problem.



Mike McCurry, CEO of Grassroots.com, defended his site, explaining that

its software sorts messages by district and sends them to the

appropriate office. 'Both our current products and the ones we are

developing allow users to contact their own members of Congress,' he

said. 'E-mail might add to the workload for legislators, but individual

citizens should be able to directly contact their representatives.'



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