Florida Legislators and Their E-Mails

By: Victoria Langley
By: Victoria Langley

Florida constituents have complained this session that state lawmakers are ignoring their e-mails. After e-mailing several legislators from all over the state, we got some very different responses.

We fired off e-mails to seven legislators Monday afternoon, then waited to see who responded. Four sent back automated responses. Two of them then followed up with personal replies.

St. Petersburg Rep. Frank Peterman did not respond, but Pensacola Rep. Dave Murzin wrote back within just six minutes. It turns out Murzin keeps in constant contact with a blackberry, but even he hits the delete button when he sees mass e-mails from special interest groups or lobbyists who aren’t in his district.

Rep David Murzin, (R) Pensacola, says, “Whether it’s Terri Schiavo or whether it’s Marion Hammer or whether it’s the Chamber, Pensacola Chamber, I’ve gotten e-mails from the Chamber that are all cut and pasted. Tell them to come up with $23 million for this and $5 million for that.”

Lawmakers who responded to our e-mail say they get from several hundred to several thousand e-mails a day. During the Terri Schiavo debate, 3,000 a day poured into each lawmaker

Rep. Irv Slosberg says lobbyists also use mass e-mails to rally the troops for or against a bill, sometimes with bogus information.

While some legislators ignore e-mails all together, busy House Speaker Allan Bense says he isn’t one of them.

Rep. Allan Bense says, “I try to do my best to read as much as I can without it dominating my entire life. There’s a balance.”

But the lesson here may be if you really need to reach your lawmaker, your best bet may be the old fashioned way: pick up the phone.

The Florida House issues blackberries to lawmakers who wish to use them. The Senate lets members decide whether to use their allotted office funds for a blackberry service.


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