Allard still not taking constituent e-mails as Senate term winds down

Retiring Sen. Wayne Allard has stopped taking constituent e-mails and is gradually shutting down his office, The Denver Post reported in a front-page story Tuesday. A Lakewood constituent even got the brush-off from the senator’s office when he tried to communicate his feelings about a federal bailout for ailing auto companies but “went to Allard’s website and found the advisory about how the senator was no longer taking electronic comments.” Allard’s e-mail embargo isn’t news to Colorado Independent readers, however — we covered the story seven weeks ago in a story with the headline “Allard shuts down contact page three months before term expires.”

To recap: In the first week of October, Allard switched off his e-mail contact page, instead greeting constituents with the following message:

Thank you for your recent communication. I appreciate you taking the time to contact my office.

The United States Senate has effectively recessed for the remainder of the year, and will not be considering new legislative proposals. I am retiring, and so my Senate career has also ended. Accordingly, I feel that your thoughts and views on this matter would be best addressed to my successor. The benefit of hearing from constituents on legislative and governance issues should be extended to Colorado’s newest Senator and not archived with me.

It’s the same message that greets constituents three weeks after the election.

After encountering the “thanks but no thanks” message on Allard’s Web site, Bill Murphy, the Lakewood man who contacted the Post, called the senator’s Denver office about bailing out the automotive industry.

“Basically, the young lady I talked to there said they’re not taking any more comments, he’s retiring and the office is closing down,” Murphy told the Post. “I’m not being represented.”

Allard’s spokesman begged to differ, saying Allard’s office takes “hundreds of calls a day.” The Senate employee made an “inaccurate statement” to the constituent, Allard’s spokesman said. Besides, Allard said, his “position is pretty clear” if the bailout comes to a vote — he “probably” opposes it.

The Post notes Allard is still drawing a salary until the next Congress is sworn in and even quotes a Princeton professor and “expert on Congress,” who says, “part of the job of any lawmaker is to listen to constituents’ views.”

It could be worse — at least Allard hasn’t shuttered his state offices yet. New Mexico’s Pete Domenici isn’t letting the barn door hit him on the way out: “There’s nobody calling my state offices because they’re closed,” Domenici said last week. Fellow imminent retiree Larry Craig of Idaho has also vacated all six of his state offices, the Post reported.

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Ernest Luning

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