Congressman Spam: Matt Gaetz of Florida

Twice a week, I receive a spasm message from Congressman Gaetz. They are always boring.

They refer to some obscure bill he voted for. No one cares except donors who want him to vote for or against this bill. The average voter has no interest. Why should he?

The function of emails from a Congressman is not to provide information on his philosophy of government. It is not to report on the central issues he regards as the heart of his political life. The function of emails is this: to keep his name in front of voters in his district. This increases name recognition every other November. Nobody actually reads these emails, especially the Congressmen whose staffs send them.

Back in 1976, long before email, I wrote Congressman Ron Paul’s weekly newsletters. I wrote a two-pager every other week, and a four-pager every other week.

I tried to keep things interesting. In the four–pager, I always included a column: “Where your tax money goes, and goes, and goes….” This was a variation of Senator William Proxmire’s enormously successful monthly press releases, “The Golden Fleece Award.” His researcher would find some egregious waste of the government’s money. Then he would compose a humorous press release with Proxmire’s name on it. If that staffer did nothing else, he more than earned his salary and his free parking space. Wikipedia comments:

Time to buy old US gold coins

The Golden Fleece Award (1975–1988) was a tongue-in-cheek award given to public officials in the United States for their squandering of public money, its name sardonically purloined from the actual Order of the Golden Fleece, a prestigious chivalric award created in the late-15th Century, and a play on the transitive verb fleece, as in charging excessively for goods or services. United States Senator William Proxmire, a Democrat from Wisconsin, began to issue the Golden Fleece Award in 1975 in monthly press releases. The Washington Post once referred to the award as “the most successful public relations device in politics today.” Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, referred to the award as being “as much a part of the Senate as quorum calls and filibusters.”

The problem is, the average Congressman does not hire a writer with a sense of humor. Someone who cranks out twice-weekly press releases on unmemorable trivia does not earn his or her salary or free parking space.

A Congressman needs o devote time deciding what his emails can do to advance his agenda, other than just getting re-elected. It should do far more than produce name identification. It should educate his supporters. It should galvanize their support. It should make a difference in their lives.

It should not fill their inboxes with trivia. They will blip them if it is boring. Rule: “Don’t get readers in the habit of deleting your emails. They may do to you at the polls.”

Congressman Gaetz’s press releases are best described in the words of Mark Twain: chloroform in print.

INTO THE BLACK HOLE

Somehow, a few months ago, I got put on Congressmen Gartz’s email list. I had never heard of him.

I know that twice a week, I will receive an email from his office.

I have written to his email lady. I have explained that I am not in his district. I have asked to be taken off the list. But the emails keep coming.

On October 13, I finally blew a fuse.

GET ME OFF THIS LIST!!!!! I keep begging. It does no good.I was Ron Paul’s staff economist in his first term. I wrote his newsletters. If someone asked to be taken off the list, we took him off. This is basic procedure.

I wanted the lady to understand that I have had experience with Congressional mailing lists, however antiquated the technology was.

I received this reply. It is techie gibberish. It came from the lady whose name — not the Congressman’s — is in the FROM box of every email.

You are not on my email list, I have looked for your email address several times. There must be an autoforward set in place from a separate email address. That said, I can also do nothing about that. An option, however, is to block my address and you will no longer receive emails. Thank you.Sent from my iPhone

So, “there must be an autoforward set in place from a separate email address.” This raises questions.

What is an autoforward?How did my name get on it?

How many other people’s emails have been added?

Why?

By whom?

Why is the Congressman’s email program unable to track this?

How can someone add names to his list?

How secure is his list?

Then there is this question: Does Congressman Gaetz monitor his mailing list’s operations?

She said this: “That said, I can also do nothing about that.” Let me translate. “You are not in our district. You can’t vote here. You are irrelevant. Go away.”

Then this: “An option, however, is to block my address and you will no longer receive emails.” Let me translate: “It’s your fault, not mine. It’s your problem, not mine. My name is in the FROM box, not the Congressman’s. I am in charge here. He is busy. I am busy. Our time is valuable. Yours is not.”

She does not understand her role. She speaks for him. She is perceived as his spokesman. Here is what she is saying: “Put Congressman Gaetz on BLOCK SENDER.” This is not a good message to send, even to non-constituents.

Finally this: “Sent from my iPhone.” Let me translate: “I’m busy, busy, busy. I am not in my office to make sure this gets dealt with. I don’t plan to solve this. Got a problem with this? Tough.”

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