When you call your lawmakers, are they listening?
(KUTV) President Trump’s policies have led to some loud and opinionated voices being shouted from Utahns. There have been protests and rallies in the Beehive State, and on Thursday night, so many people wanted to hear-from/shout-at Rep. Jason Chaffetz that the auditorium at Brighton High School couldn’t accommodate the crowd.
Others are turning to their phones and computers to make their voices heard. Calls and emails have reportedly been swamping the offices of all members of Congress.
Last week, one constituent even sent Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch a pizza with a note asking him to vote, ‘no,’ on confirming Betsy Devos for education secretary.
It got us wondering: Just how many Utahns are speaking out and what are they saying? Short of a poll, it's a question that, we found, is not easily confirmed. Emails, phone calls, letters, faxes and, yes, pizza deliveries to members of Congress are not public records.
So, we can't demand to see constituent comments, still, it never hurts to ask. So, with the senate debating the merits of the president’s cabinet appointments, we posed the question to both of Utah's senators.
Hatch's camp wouldn't provide much, stating that giving any sort of hard numbers, or even indication what people were saying would violate the "privacy" of those who'd reached out. That said, Hatch's spokesperson claims they do, "carefully track all calls, emails, letters, faxes, social media posts, and in-person messages."
Wednesday, 2News pressed Hatch in a satellite interview, “Are you ignoring calls? Are you telling [callers] they're misinformed?"
"Heavens no," Hatch replied. "I don't want to ever let my state down."
Utah Sen. Mike Lee's office was more open. In a tele-town hall meeting posted online Monday, Lee told viewers he has received around 5,000 phone calls in just the past week.
His staff also answered our specific questions about some of the more hot-button topics.
Regarding the confirmation of Devos, more than 1,000 Utahns contacted Lee asking him to vote, ‘no.’ Only 47 people reached out asking him to vote, ‘aye.’
He said 189 expressed displeasure with the immigration ban compared to six in favor of the ban.
And whether or not to undo the national monument designation that President Obama had slapped on the Bears Ears region in Southern Utah before leaving office, Lee heard from 68 Utahns who want the monument to stay. About half of that, 35 people, reached out to say, undo the monument.
Those numbers alone seem to indicate that Utah is aligning with many outspoken democrats and liberals - but, that’s not likely.
Lee's press secretary agrees, warning that complaint calls aren't really a good indicator of where constituents stand. People tend to only reach out when they're mad or worried. Happy people tend to keep their opinions to themselves.