How many people called or contacted Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch to voice an opinion – mostly negative – on Betsy DeVos’s nomination for education secretary? Neither office will say.
“It isn’t available and we’re not going to release those numbers,” Risch Chief of Staff John Sandy said Tuesday, adding that members of Congress are not required to release such information.
Robert Sumner, Crapo’s press secretary, was similarly circumspect.
“We will not release the call and mail tallies regarding the DeVos nomination because the precise number of Idahoans cannot be determined due to outside area codes and those who do not leave contact information,” he said in a statement.
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DeVos was confirmed Feb. 7 in an unprecedented 51-50 vote, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie. Both of Idaho’s senators joined all but two of their Republican colleagues in supporting her appointment. People who contacted one or both senators urging them to reject DeVos’s nomination later reached out to the Statesman for help getting information on the volume of calls.
“This isn’t the only subject that we ought to get a lot of calls on,” Sandy said. During Risch’s first term, he said, the office at one point took 1200-1500 calls a day from people seeking to block passage of Affordable Care Act.
A lot of the DeVos calls were part of organized lobbying efforts coming from out of state, Sandy said. The senator “takes them seriously to a point.”
“Whether it’s from the left or from the right, these types of situations are not unusual,” he said. “Numbers like these, when it comes to the real bottom line, are somewhat deceitful and inaccurate.”
Sumner, from Crapo’s office, said many callers voiced their opinion on DeVos but gave no additional information, including their identity or location. The office can’t determine whether someone is calling for the first time or the tenth, he said.
“The same applies to emails and other form petitions that have been sent to our office which often contain false or incomplete email and physical mailing addresses,” Sumner said. “Regardless of the inaccuracy of tallies, the sentiment of the callers is clear and the Senator notes that sentiment.”
Sandy said the volume of calls and contacts on various topics related to Trump administration appointments and policies has subsided for the time being, with people “moving to different subjects now.”
“Every one of these Trump appointees has had their constituent groups against them,” he said. “We’re starting to get some calls from the proponents.”