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Graham Cellphone Debacle Might Be Hassle for Senate Tech Team

Graham, R-S.C., speaks with reporters in the Capitol last month. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Graham, R-S.C., speaks with reporters in the Capitol last month. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Because the cellphone number Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump announced to the world Tuesday was issued to Sen. Lindsey Graham by the Senate, Trump’s stunt has likely caused some extra work for the institution’s tech support team.  

Staff of the Senate sergeant-at-arms will help the South Carolina Republican if he decides to update the digits Trump recited to a crowd in Graham’s home state, apparently in retaliation for Graham calling Trump a “jackass.” Fortunately for Graham, who still wields a flip-phone and claims never to have sent an email , taxpayer-funded IT support is one of the perks that comes with holding office.  

Each senator is allocated dozens of lines with the District’s 202 area code, including up to five lines for incoming calls, two individual lines in a senator’s Capitol office and one for each full-time staffer, according to the Senate Rules Handbook.  

The 380-page tome, last updated in October 2010, states that Senate sergeant-at-arms staff will assist members’ offices in acquiring, with their official office account funds, items the SAA is not authorized to provide, including “cellular telephones” and “BlackBerry devices.”  

Once a senator requests a new phone number, SAA staff work with the appropriate provider to have a number issued and activated for his or her account, according to a source familiar with the process.  

The internal website maintained by SAA for Senate staff and employees provides guidance on ordering new devices through the agency’s “Technology Catalog.”  

To the dismay of fellow flip-phone enthusiast Sen. Charles E. Schumer, Graham indicated on Twitter he was looking into newer phone technology.  

“Say it ain’t so!” the New York Democrat responded in a tweet.  

Having your cellphone number exposed is a risk that comes with the job, Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., told reporters later that afternoon.  

“It troubles me because we give up so much of our privacy,” Durbin said. “And for those who would make a mockery of that by releasing someone’s personal telephone number, it not only is inconvenient and could be troubling, but it could be dangerous. You have to be very careful in this business.”

Durbin called Trump’s move “a cheap trick by a cheap-trick artist who is making a headline every day with something more embarrassing.”

Nicole Puglise contributed to this report. 

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