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Web Site Sends Messages to Member E-Mail Boxes

A new Web site has compiled a list of hard-to-get e-mail addresses — including addresses for Members of Congress and top Congressional staff — and is allowing the general public access to the list to send messages to this select group about the Democratic health care bill. Over the August recess, top House Republican and Democratic aides confirmed receiving hundreds of e-mails with the subject line “HR 3200— — the bill number assigned to the House Democratic health care reform bill ­— and the greeting “To the House of Representatives— from people around the country.The messages were apparently facilitated by Stewart, the creator of the site, told Roll Call in an e-mail that he created the site and assembled the list of lawmakers and staff to ensure that citizens could communicate their views directly with their Members of Congress through a nonpartisan venue. The Web site has been operational since June.He declined to say how he got the e-mail addresses — a seemingly random assortment of around 200 Members and staff ­— saying, “The compilation of emails is confidential.—“Unlike some in the media, House of Bills, its employees and investors, is not affiliated with any political organizations or members of Congress,— Stewart wrote.According to several e-mails forwarded to Roll Call, individuals with varying opinions of the health care debate have used Stewart’s site to contact Members of Congress and their staff to indicate their support or opposition to bills under discussion in the House and Senate.Although staff who have been contacted through the site said they welcomed the interaction with the public, they were surprised at the volume of e-mails they received with the “HR 3200— subject line.In addition to the ability to e-mail a long list of Members and their staff, House of Bills also features a summary of the Democratic health care reform bills.“In the past, one would voice a concern about a particular bill through their own Representative,— Stewart wrote in an August 22 press release.“Reaching one person may create a difference, but influencing numerous representatives may achieve a greater impact.—In order to manage increasing e-mail traffic, Congressional offices routinely discard e-mails that do not come from within their district and have developed e-mail forms that route messages to the staffer responsible for the issue in question.

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