Help Lobby Congress on S. 482!

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Update: Please send your thanks to @Barbara_Boxer and @clairecmc (Sen. Claire McCaskill) for agreeing to cosponsor S. 482.

The legend of lobbying in Washington, DC states that President Ulysses Grant would take a jaunt over to the Willard Hotel to smoke cigars and enjoy a glass of brandy. Waiting in the hotel’s lobby for the President would be agents of all the big industries and causes seeking an audience. Today, you don’t need to come to Washington or wait for politicians to leave their security bubbles to get a word in edge wise, all you need is to connect with them on Twitter and keep the lobbying to 140 characters or less. In our quest to pass S. 482, a bill to require senators to file their campaign finance reports electronically, we are taking our lobbying, with your help, to Twitter.

Here’s the scoop: There are currently seventeen senators on Twitter. For the most part these senators have not yet signed on as cosponsors to S. 482. In fact, only two of the seventeen are already cosponsors. We need your help to petition over Twitter the fifteen who have not cosponsored and ask them to support the bill by signing on as a cosponsor. Each one of these senators will need a tweet sent to them (example: @jimdemint) with a message asking them to cosponsor. Feel free to make up your own message:

Example: @jimdemint Need your support for Senate e-filing of campaign finance reports. Please cosponsor S. 482!

The senators to contact with this message are (with example message for posting):

Barbara Boxer, D-CA: @Barbara_Boxer Need your support for Senate e-filing of campaign finance reports. Please cosponsor S. 482!

Susan Collins, R-ME: @senatorcollins Need your support for Senate e-filing of campaign finance reports. Please cosponsor S. 482!

John Cornyn, R-TX: @JohnCornyn Need your support for Senate e-filing of campaign finance reports. Please cosponsor S. 482!

Jim DeMint, R-SC: @jimdemint Need your support for Senate e-filing of campaign finance reports. Please cosponsor S. 482!

John Ensign, R-NV: @johnensign Need your support for Senate e-filing of campaign finance reports. Please cosponsor S. 482!

Chuck Grassley, R-IA: @chuckgrassley Need your support for Senate e-filing of campaign finance reports. Please cosponsor S. 482!

Jim Inhofe, R-OK: @jiminhofe Need your support for Senate e-filing of campaign finance reports. Please cosponsor S. 482!

Mel Martinez, R-FL: @melmartinez Need your support for Senate e-filing of campaign finance reports. Please cosponsor S. 482!

Claire McCaskill, D-MO: @clairecmc Need your support for Senate e-filing of campaign finance reports. Please cosponsor S. 482!

Robert Menendez, D-NJ: @senatormenendez Need your support for Senate e-filing of campaign finance reports. Please cosponsor S. 482!

Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH: @JeanneShaheen Need your support for Senate e-filing of campaign finance reports. Please cosponsor S. 482!

Mark Udall, D-CO: @markudall Need your support for Senate e-filing of campaign finance reports. Please cosponsor S. 482!

Tom Udall, D-NM: @tomudall Need your support for Senate e-filing of campaign finance reports. Please cosponsor S. 482!

Mark Warner, D-VA: @MarkWarner Need your support for Senate e-filing of campaign finance reports. Please cosponsor S. 482!

Roger Wicker, R-MS: @rogerwicker Need your support for Senate e-filing of campaign finance reports. Please cosponsor S. 482!

The two senators who are already supporting the bill need a different message. For these senators we want to know where they stand on the potential Roberts amendment, which has been proposed as a way to block passage of the bill. We want to know if these senators will oppose the Roberts amendment. Here’s an example statement:

Example: @SenChrisDodd Thanks for supporting S. 482! To ensure passage I need you to oppose the proposed Roberts amendment. Thank you again.

The senators receiving this message are (Twitter name in parentheses):

Chris Dodd, D-CT: @SenChrisDodd Thanks for supporting S. 482! To ensure passage I need you to oppose the proposed Roberts amendment. Thank you again.

John McCain, R-AZ: @SenJohnMcCain Thanks for supporting S. 482! To ensure passage I need you to oppose the proposed Roberts amendment. Thank you again.

The more tweets to senators the better, so get your friends to tweet too, or have them re-tweet you. To learn more about S. 482, check out the Pass 482 site.

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  • Matthew

    What about a tweet management of sorts?
    What about using a hashtag like James said, but then sending the senators a running tally of the message count in favor, so that they can check out the hash themselves to see the specifics, but then they only get a tweet per hour about how fast the response is building. That way they know beyond a doubt that people are reacting, but it is in a format that is not overloading and statistical so that they can use it in conversations with other political members.

  • Andy

    Can we come up with any other options? Would it maybe work to Not tweet directly @ these people, but have everyone tweet once per “type” of target in general prior to some point in time and then have the Sunlight Foundation (or other designate) send a search link or something to the representatives?

    I don’t know… slamming their streams might be more dramatic, but a summary / petition type of approach might be more polite

  • Some people are expressing concerns the TweetLobby amounts to “spamming” Members of Congress who are on Twitter. Well, a genuine message of concern about a pending bill can’t be “spam,” as most of us understand that term. It is Members’ job, after all, to pay attention to public opinion as they wrestle with the issues before them.

    That said, we can understand if you prefer the time-tested method of calling http://sunlightfoundation.com/pass482 or writing your Members, and prefer to save Twitter for other kinds of communication.

    We also understand the concerns that some folks, including our friend Ethan Zuckerman http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2009/03/11/politics-and-new-media-or-should-i-really-tweetspam-congress/, that “twobbying” Members by sending them direct messages via Twitter may eventually cause them to stop participating in using this two-way medium. Well, it IS a two-way medium, isn’t it? Members of Congress who adopt social media can’t expect it to work like top-down media.

    That said, there is a larger point here for all of us to ponder, as we foster greater transparency and participation by embracing interactive communications technologies. We are going to need better tools for filtering and managing mass participation, as these media are adopted by more and more people. Right now, it’s pretty cool that Members of Congress are experimenting with Twitter and personally paying attention to the tweets landing in their inboxes. This situation probably can’t last. It’s incumbent on all of us to figure out what comes next.

  • Jon P

    Seriously? this is just embarassing.

    Sunlight is a great org. and it seems like 75% of the people there get technology but why in the world would they encourage people to do what amounts to spam?

    I met a lot of sunlight’s tech staff and they all seem like people who get it, developers and designers they of all people should understand the importance of not turning these social networks into mechanism for spam.

    I hope that this is the first and last we see of this nonsense and that Sunlight listens to us on this as they can very easily lose the rep that they’ve built these last few years.

  • jay

    For anyone who wants to help but is frustrated with the technique of copy-paste, I’ve written a script to accomplish this;

    http://my.shelv.us/suntweet/

    None of your login information is stored on my site (it and all the data) goes straight to twitter.

  • I was just wondering how you verified that these are the real twitter accounts for the senators. We found one, for example, for Dick Durbin that’s not listed here, and I don’t know if the ones you have are verified or not. Any info on this would be great!

  • ksclarke

    For those that automatically follow those who follow them, you could Twitter DM them without the spamminess concern. I’m not sure if following those who follow them is the norm though.

  • Jay

    You are correct there are only 2 Senators on Twitter. We have corrected the mistake.

    Nisha

  • Fred

    Sorry. I’d be posting 15 nearly identical messages to the public timeline. This is not an appropriate use of @ messaging.

  • Well, Twitter has jumped the snark. As with all other technologies, when it starts to become mainstream new rules (and uses) begin to apply.

    But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Senators and their staffers are paying more attention to Twitter than to their e-mail (they have special softward that automatically weeds out “bulk” e-mails) so lobbying “Tweet Ups” offer an interesting opportunity to make an impression. For a brief window of time, anyway.

  • jay

    You mention three senators who are supporting the bill but only list two.

  • I agree w/ the warnings about spamminess. I do not want my twitterstream monopolized by this message.

    All these Senators have email, and phone.

  • James

    you should be sending these to a hashtag so you can track them. #tweetlobby? it’s important to be able to measure these things!

  • C’mon

    I for one would probably unfollow anyone who started retweeting this over and over again to these twitter accounts that are basically just blatant PR arms, not for citizen input

  • When does “lobbying” become “spam? I worry this won’t be very persuasive…