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Susan Collins to Group: People are Calling Me. Help Me Make Them Stop!

At the end of a meeting with Mainers for Accountable Leadership today, Senator Susan Collins of Maine was caught on video complaining that her office has been receiving too many calls from people upset with her policies. At the end of her complaint, Senator Collins asks MFAL leadership to help her stop Mainers from placing calls to complain about her policies.

A transcript of the video, which you can watch here, follows:

Mainers For Accountable Leadership representative: “Thank you. Again, we would like to invite you to a town hall with us, and these are our expectations. We have been having trouble getting in touch with your office, your phone lines are busy. We have been keeping track of how many times your voicemail has been full and your phone lines are busy.”

Senator Susan Collins: “Right.”

MFAL: “And we are very grateful.”

Senator Collins: “Well, as you can imagine, I’m limited in the number of staff that I can hire by the budget, and when we had 17,000 calls on a variety of issues, both pro and con nominees in particular, my office did the best that they could, and I have a great staff. And so what I would suggest is that people use the website because that gets to me also. And I’m worried, I will tell you, I’m worried that someone who’s having trouble with their social security disability benefits can’t get through on our phone lines. That a veteran who is having difficulty getting an appointment with the VA can’t get through on our phone lines. And a lot of these people don’t make the trek to the office because they’re disabled. And so that’s why we were trying to urge people, particularly those that are calling from out of state, to use our website. Because we do, we help thousands of Mainers every year with problems with fellow agencies. Literally thousands. And it really bothers me that they can’t get through because our lines are jammed. So I’d ask your help on that.”

Got that? There are so many people upset with Senator Collins calling her office that veterans and disabled people are getting hurt — so Mainers for Accountable Leadership should tell its group members in Maine to stop complaining on the phone to Senator Collins’ office. Not for her sake, mind you. It’s for veterans and disabled people that everyone should stop calling her with feedback.

There are so many oddities about this claim that it’s hard to know where to start. For one thing, disabled people are one of the groups calling Senator Collins to complain about her plan to take health insurance away from millions of people. Apparently they should stop calling the Senator for their own sake. For another thing, Senator Collins has taken to claiming that out-of-state callers are the ones shutting down her phones — and yet she’s asking an in-state social movement group, Mainers for Accountable Leadership, to get their members to stop making calls.

Such problems, if they really are real, could be fixed very simply. One solution would be to simply designate a separate voicemail box for constituents who need help with services. Senator Collins’ voicemail system actually already has multiple voicemail boxes. Another solution would be to use services available from Maine’s landline phone company Fairpoint to block calls from out-of-state area codes. There are assuredly many other technical solutions to manage phone calls beyond these two.

The “leave a comment on my website” claim is a sham, a canard. Congressional staffer Emily Ellsworth is one of many to reveal that website comments and e-mails to members of Congress are almost never actually read: instead, they’re fed into computer programs that use artificial intelligence to classify them and send out automated responses. Leaving a comment on Senator Susan Collins’ website is the worst thing a constituent can do if they actually want to be heard.

What’s the best thing for a constituent to do if they want to be heard? Again, the answer from congressional staffer Emily Ellsworth: make a phone call to your member of Congress.

Telling constituents to stop calling with feedback is not technically necessary, it’s self-serving for a Senator who doesn’t want to listen, it’s bad advice for constituents who want to be heard, and it’s downright unethical in a system of democratic representation. But that’s what Senator Susan Collins is telling Maine now: please, if you’ve got a problem with what I’m doing in Washington, whatever you do, don’t call me.

9 thoughts on “Susan Collins to Group: People are Calling Me. Help Me Make Them Stop!”

  1. Bert Michaud says:

    “What will we do?” Have faith that she’ll do the right thing.
    Senator Collins is one of the FEW sane Republican senators. She’s done a fine job for her Maine constituents all these years she’s been in Congress; trust what she says, she’s earned it.
    I’m a Democrat “from away”, but Maine bred and educated.

    1. James R, Olson says:

      Your entitled to your opinion from away, and we are entitled to fight the GOP for our lives freedom and justice.

      1. Gertrude Martin says:

        Agreed James Olsen

        1. Andrea Gray says:

          She has done little to represent my interests and I am entitled to voice my concerns about this. I don’t trust her and her political actions have proven her untrustworthy. Democracy is about election. Our legislative branch is meant to provide checks and balances for the other two branches of government. It is time for Collins to “check” this administration. The republican agenda has become spiteful. Laws are meant to improve our circumstances not erode any personal freedoms. If I am in the minority in my view of Collins she will be re-elected. But I don’t think I am and I will work tirelessly to ensure that that doesn’t happen.

    2. Gertrude Martin says:

      Well then you don’t know what is really going on with her!

  2. Diana Hauser says:

    Every Maine citizen should be outraged over these comments by S Collins. As my grandmother used to say, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

  3. Steve Anderson says:

    I’m wondering if there is any way to verify the number of out of state calls she claims to receive. Sorry but what is there about the republicans to make us simply accept their assertions of “out of town protesters” showing up to disrupt town meetings and now the phone lines.

    1. Nick says:

      It’s probably very hard since, if people move to Maine from out of state, they probably don’t change their cell phone number.

  4. Jay cee says:

    She couldn’t give a rat’s ass about veterans. If she did she wouldn’t keep voting against legislation to help us.

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