Tips For Tracking Down Anonymous Holds

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Tom Devine, Legal Director of the Government Accountability Project is no stranger to confronting Senators. So, to help us with On the Media’s “Blow the Whistle” project, he has given us a list of tactics that GAP uses to help callers get the answers when they want when calling their Senators.

  1. Call the main number for each Senator and say “in response to a public radio program we're checking to see if that office put a hold on S. 372, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, and would like to speak with the relevant staffer who worked on the bill.”
  2. If there is any active or passive resistance (i.e., staffer is unavailable, etc.), we explain that unless we can receive a "no" answer to the question, we will report that senator's non-response as a passive admission by refusing to deny the hold.
  3. We're persistent! We keep trying to reach the staffer until you connect. Sometimes it takes a few days, but with reminders that we don't want to unfairly hold them responsible for killing the taxpayer reform merely due to a communications gap, sooner or later we always talk to each other.
  4. Once there's a dialogue with the right staffer, we just ask directly. Sometimes they'll say they didn't do it, but it's possible their boss did without telling them. The fallback to that or any other non-answers is to ask that they check and pin it down, so we don't have to report that the Senator's office takes the position it doesn't know whether he placed a hold on the bill and will not find out.
  5. When an office confesses, I make it a point not to be judgmental or aggressive, but to ask what was the context and reasoning for the decision. The staffer may want to make the boss look better. In the process of explaining we can learn more about who else was involved and what went on behind closed doors.


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Comments [13]

Joyce from N/A

I am not nearly as worried about what this senator did when you compare it to what our Government is doing through its non performing federal agencies. The whole world sees the neglect, why do we need a whistle blower to further announce it to the world.

I have yet to see the Agency for the People that could have a substantial bearing on how the government has not performed with respect to the Protection of the Consumer's Rights. All kinds of agencies, but what are they doing and what progress have the made. The situation is far worse that anyone could ever have imagined and all right under our noses and the feds have not issued the one ultimatum that will get this country back for the good of the people. - To the Financial Services Industry, you will feel the pain if you do not conform to prudent, fair and equitable business practices. As I recall, a FNMA representative said this to a newspaper reporter that homeowners who abandon their homes will feel the pain. Well, I ask you, have the financial entities of America not abandoned the people by so harming their brother by their actions for profit.

Feb. 14 2011 01:46 PM
Tyler from Louisville, KY

anyone check and see if KY's bunning did this as an exiting present?

Jan. 27 2011 09:21 AM
Derick Downey from Normal, IL

Called Mark Kirk from IL, staffer said "All I can do is take down your contact information." No response yet.

Jan. 26 2011 12:30 PM
George Peabody from Hawaii

Your email address bounces back fatal error. Why?
Anyway, in interest of transparency and accountability in government,
I just talked to Rufino Maglibo [sp?] at Sen. Dan Inouye's office who said he did not know if Inouye put the hold on Dec. 22, but that he would ask the Sen. to repond to me by regular mail as he does not send out email responses to issues such as this.
Then I called Sen. Dan Akaka's office, talked to Katherina [sp?] would not give last name but nice lady, who said she did not know if Akaka, who is Chairman of the HS/Gov Oversight subCommittee, did anything with S372 Dec 22, but referred me to voice mail for the committe chief Lisa Powell 202-224-4551 whom she said should be able to pose the question to the Senator for a response to me. I left a message with the question Did Sen Dan Akaka place the anonymous hold on S372 Dec 22 ? And I left my email address and phone number with my name and residence in Hawaii.

Please keep me informed by email to me of what you find out . mahalos,
George Peabody editor for MANonline weekly,

808-558-8253 much prefer email comms ! but you can leave a message.

Jan. 24 2011 04:35 PM
Evan from Kentucky

I noticed that Mitch Mitch McConnell had not yet replied. I sent him another e-mail today.

Jan. 24 2011 08:52 AM
Jerry from Boston

I want to reiterate the question of Phil from Cincinnati. I have a relative in Florida who would undoubtedly contact Mel Martinez if there is a way to do so.

That said - is there any reason an ex-Senator would feel compelled to respond? That seems to be a hole in this scheme...

Jan. 16 2011 08:35 PM
Phil from Cincinnati, OH

Do you have any tips for reaching the staff of a senator who was in office at the time of the hold but is no longer serving as a result of the most recent election?

Jan. 16 2011 03:59 PM
Ina Ayliffe from Dallas, Tx.

If someone finds out which senator is guilty, please announce it so we can contact him.

Jan. 12 2011 12:27 AM
Andy Bunch from North Carolina

With our government supposedly being "for the people" there is NO WAY that it is appropriate for ANY ONE SENATOR to obstruct the will of the American people AND OF THE CONGRESS (as witnessed by the passage by both houses). It is my strongly voiced opinion that legislation in both houses of Congress should be immediately passed that prohibits this or any similar action.

Jan. 11 2011 12:55 PM
Lisa Pearl Black

I agree with Edward from Palo Alto,CA. How can ONE PERSON stop a bill that was passed with bipartisan"blessings" from the house and Senate. America deserves to know what idiot was allowed to
drop this ball,AND possibly get away with it.
Send out a REWARD for this scumbag to be exposed.

Jan. 11 2011 11:28 AM

When I found the proper way to address the question by reading tips by Tom Devine of WNYC, there was during the second call, still a response from the same staff member, Sarah Reinprecht, that his office will not release Senator Menendez's response. To which I responded that I will have to report him as a NO. She was going to go on and on. This already took a total of 9 (nine) minutes. I hung up rather than have her bend my ear. She does not seem trustworthy.

Jan. 10 2011 05:08 PM
Robert Resnik from Maryland

Senatir Cadin has not placed any obstructive acion on such a bill

Jan. 10 2011 04:24 PM
Edward from Palo Alto, CA

I would like to know the history or this maneuver. I'm well into my senior citizen years, and I've never heard of this before. When was this move enacted? If it had been around in the civil rights movement days, I'm sure that more than a few southern senators would have used it. IT IS A SLAP IN THE FACE OF THE ENTIRE NATION THAT ONE PERSON COULD DO THIS.

Jan. 10 2011 12:53 PM

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