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Anonymous Activism-Is there such a thing?

Discussion in 'Activism Discussion and Planning' started by D.B. Cooper, Apr 25, 2020.

  1. D.B. Cooper

    D.B. Cooper Member

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    I need some advice.

    I recently sent emails to two of my local assembly members on a non 2A issue. I din't know it at the time (if I did I wouldn't have sent the emails), but they took all the emails on that issue and published them in a searchable data base. With my name on it. So I am now forever connected to that.

    I'm a public employee, and I work in a very public, highly scrutinized field. I get doxxed at least a couple times per year. (For example, my voter registration is public information, so I deliberately register as independent/no party affiliate, so people can't (easily) accuse me of partisanship.

    Now I find myself wanting to contact my US Senator regarding anti gun statements she made recently in connection with the COVID19 aid package, but it would be unwise for me, professionally, to permanently and publicly go on the record on any political issue, especially this one.

    How can I, as a voter, communicate my concerns to my elected officials in an anonymous fashion that protects my privacy, my job, and my personal safety, while still holding credibility with politicians?
     
  2. Jeff White

    Jeff White Moderator Staff Member

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    I would say the only way to keep it private would be to schedule a face to face meeting with your legislator. I have done it several times. Accessing a US Senator will probably require a huge donation but my congressman has regular one on one meetings with constituents throughout the district.
     
  3. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    If you have a state gun rights organization, you could join it, contribute to it, and communicate with those in that organization that reach out to legislators.
     
  4. LNK

    LNK Member

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    Try calling the office from a pay phone, and use a voice changer. Just kidding. You could mail a letter and not put your return address. Like the olden days. Paper, pen, envelope and stamp. Maybe even mail it from across town. You could even wear a disguise while mailing it. Sign it "concerned constituent".
     
  5. DocRock

    DocRock Member

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    I do not wish to be rude or contrarian. It certainly sounds as if you have legitimate concerns about doxxing. However, if you wish to communicate your views and opinions on policy issues to a public official, there is no reason that those views should be withheld from the public. We demand transparency from elected officials. That includes knowing with whom they are communicating and what they are communicating about.
     
  6. LNK

    LNK Member

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    I disagree on the transparency for whom the politician is communicating. A politician is a public figure, and he should have to be transparent. A private citizen should have a right to anonymity, especially in a position like a teacher. Having your livelihood threatened by an unpopular position on an issue is just wrong. Free speech is and should be protected. Which is why I suggested a letter. Electronic communication is never private, at least I consider it not private.
    Doxxing is a serious threat to people these days. Kind of like the brown shirts. I hope you never have the privilege.
     
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  7. DocRock

    DocRock Member

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    You do realize that letters will be scanned and entered into the database. Right?
     
  8. LNK

    LNK Member

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    If you don't put your name or address on it, why does that matter?
     
  9. DocRock

    DocRock Member

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    I don’t suppose it will matter, but the simple fact is that a Congresscritter will listen to three types of people: 1) somebody with a campaign check; 2) a business owner or representative that employs people in his/her district/state, or; 3) a constituent.

    A letter with no name and address goes straight into the circular file. Doesn’t even get read by the Summer intern.
     
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  10. George P

    George P Member

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    Set up some anonymous email from a public place, like a library, and go from there. Otherwise, let your local political group get your input and hope they make your wished known.
     
  11. LNK

    LNK Member

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    You know this how? First you say it will get scanned and files, now it gets tossed. I am not trying to be argumentative, but you are trying real hard to make being anonymous, yet heard, impossible. Have you been a staffer or a congressman? I haven't, but if I got an anonymous letter, I would really give some thought as to why someone wished to remain so, while also considering what issue they were contacting me about.

    We can be done here. I have nothing else.
     
  12. Ironicaintit

    Ironicaintit Member

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    This day and age, there will be no anonymity while voicing your opinions to your representatives. Unless you’re a huge cog with a fat check, then maybe it’d be undocumented.
    An actual letter sans name and address will not be taken seriously, and may receive extra scrutiny from security.
     
  13. DocRock

    DocRock Member

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    Let's see. A) I worked in Congress, for a Congressman, B) I'm a lobbyist and regularly interact with Congresscritters and their 12 year old minions, and C) I'm a grown-up. So, yes, I know this.

    The Congressman/woman doesn't "get" a letter. The mail gets opened by staff and interns. It then gets triaged. 1) stuff that can be ignored and binned - anonymous letter expressing a viewpoint would be right after junk mail, 2) constituent letters expressing viewpoints - these get summarized and passed to the Communications Director of Chief of Staff. Unless there's something very interesting, the Member will never see it, 3) things staff deem "important" - these get passed to the Chief of Staff, who will determine whether it is important and what gets passed to the Member. And just so you know, if you get a letter back thanking you for your thoughtful input, the Member has never seen that either.
     
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  14. D.B. Cooper

    D.B. Cooper Member

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    Actually, we don't. But I believe there is some traction on trying to start one. I'm already a member of GOA and 2AF and NRA (NRA is a waste of money but they will track my classification for High Power). I Joined VCDL during the whole lobby day thing. I see even that as something of a risk. I don't think that my membership is publicly listed anywhere (I've never found it), but I'm concerned someone with more time and resources than me could. It hasn't been that long ago when the NRA was labeled a terrorist organization (or some such craziness) by the CA state government.
     
  15. LNK

    LNK Member

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    I see you speak from experience, I have no political experience( not do I want any), therefore, thank you for your insight. Seems we constituents have no ability to get our point to "our" representatives without the real danger of being doxxed. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, knowing having an unpopular opinion, may make you a target. Clearly there is something wrong with a system like this.

    I suppose you could use a fictional name, but they probably check those too. What a shame.

    DB, you might have to bite the bullet and try to contact them in person. Though it seems having a large check with you may be the only way you can gain access. Looks like they only represent their checking account or re-election fund. Perhaps if it is an important enough issue, a group could hire a lobbyist. They seem to have access, but you might still need a big check.
     
  16. D.B. Cooper

    D.B. Cooper Member

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    Well, I can't afford a large check. In fact, I don't donate to campaigns for the same reason; I'm fairly certain there are actual laws hat require politicians to keep records of donations-and I that is necessary and proper to help guard against corruption.
     
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  17. hps1

    hps1 Member

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    Forget the year, but back when NRA was trying to get a bill passed to allow mail order of ammo and reloading supplies, I was HP rifle director for our area gun club and very active in HP competition. Shot on a couple of "pick up" teams with the then NRA area rep who became a personal friend. He contacted me and asked if I had any pull with our congressman, which I did not.

    Now, I'm far from a political guru, in fact I don't even like politics, but the problem was that the opposition had bottled up the NRA bill in committee and the speaker refused to call it up for a floor vote; end of session fast approaching. NRA rep said there was a discharge petition which lacked only one vote (our congressman had not signed) which would force the bill to the floor for an up or down vote. I agreed to see what I could do FWIW.

    Our club had about 250 members and I belonged to and was in regular contact with two other area clubs w/total membership of around 1200 members, all of which were in the congressman's district. I mailed out a monthly match report to all competitors in our club and the rifle directors of the two other clubs for circulation to their members. Now we all know politicians have a reputation for stretching the truth on occasion, so, with a clear conscience, I called the Washington office of our congressman, introducing myself as the "Legislative" director of our club ( I know, we didn't have a legislative director, but I was an elected director of the club;)). After stating the number of members in our club and that I was in close contact w/members of the other two clubs, all members of which were in favor of passage of the bill, I said that I was preparing a bulletin to be mailed to our membership informing them as to the congressman's position on the matter. She put me on hold for the aide working on that issue. I stated my position to that aide and she promised me that the congressman was going to sign the petition the next day. GREAT!

    I called back next day and she told me he was on the way to sign the petition as we spoke. It was late in the day in DC at that time. I called my friend w/NRA and told him the good news. A bit later (shortly after normal office hours in DC), he called back and said he didn't know what was going on, but the petition had not been signed!

    The next morning I called, asking for my contact by name who had told me he was en route, and confronted her with the lack of signature. She told me he had left to sign the petition but had been intercepted by a constituent so did not get there in time yesterday, but assured me it had been signed that morning....which it had.

    This gives me reason to believe that, while not completely anonymous, phone calls can be effective and I would think not as likely to be made public, but who knows? I suspect that an anonymous letter would carry about the same weight as a signature on a petition, which I've been told is not much.

    Perhaps DocRock can shed some inside light on handling of telephone calls.

    Regards,
    hps
     
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  18. DocRock

    DocRock Member

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    @hps1 Classic! If more folks used their noggins like that, we might have honest legislatures.

    So, what should have happened - whether it did or not - is that the staffer who took the call should have taken a name and a contact number or address, logged the call, and put in a note with details "Legislative Director for X, Y number of members in district, asking about Bill Z". Then the LA who spoke to you about the Petition should have logged similar details and made a note with the LD. Whether call logs are made public or not is up to the Office but they are subject to FOIA requests.

    The reason they spoke to you is because you were a constituent. The reason the listened is because you were smart. :thumbup:
     
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  19. hps1

    hps1 Member

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    Thanks for the insight, Doc. Assumed phone calls would be a bit harder to track down than correspondence of any type, but did not know inside office procedures. The LA sounded really surprised when I called early the next morning and let her know that I knew that the petition had not been signed the day before. I don't think that hurt the cause, either.:)

    So, what is your assessment as to the value of petitions compared to individual contact?
    Thanks again, in advance; the better we understand the procedures, the more effective we can be in accomplishing our goals.

    Regards,
    hps
     
  20. DocRock

    DocRock Member

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    The more people that matter to the Member - constituents, district employers, interest groups, other members of their party, donors - that press for a specific outcome, the more likely the Member is to consider doing it. But even a well-coordinated campaign cannot get a leopard to change its spots.

    I had an issue with a Dem Senator on a piece of legislation that I knew he could not vote for, even though that's what I would have really liked. Nothing I could do would get him to go on record voting for the legislation. But if he voted against it, it would be impossible to continue to work with him on anything and that would also be a problem. I talked to the Chief-of-Staff so that I wouldn't put the Senator himself on the spot, and reasoned that the Bill was going to pass no matter what he did but that a vote against it would be blood feud stuff. I basically asked him to call in "sick" and miss the vote. I got the Dem Governor's Chief of Staff to weigh in with the same message. In the end, the Chief of Staff must have sold the Senator on it, because he missed the vote. That was realistically the best I could expect in that situation. One of the keys to successful management of politicians is knowing what is possible. The other is to always appeal to their baser instincts...
     
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