CommitteeCaller: phone an entire Congressional committee with one click

Fred sez,

I've just finished building, a site that allows one person to target an entire congressional committee over the phone. The web application utilizes the open source Asterisk PBX system to connect you to every senator or house member on a particular committee. No more digging around the 'net entering zip-codes to retrieve phone numbers of representatives -- automates the tedium of repetitively dialing your favorite politicians.

Just go to the website, select a committee, enter in your phone number and click "Put me in touch with democracy!" and you'll be called by our system and sequentially patched through to the front office of each member on that committee. You can even rate how each call went -- information that will enable us to rank representatives on how accountable and responsive they are to their constituents.

This is an excellent opportunity to contact the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence -- the politicians who are debating today whether telecoms should receive retroactive immunity for spying on your phone calls and e-mail.



  1. Cool! Can I automate this with a pre-recorded outgoing message? (After all, it only seems fair given the number of hucksterish recordings _THEY_ pelt _MY_ phone with every election season.)

    Seriously, though, you get a gold star! Not only for the concept, but for seeing it through.

  2. Congressional staff are going to hate you. Nothing irks them more than taking calls from people outside of their boss’ district/state.

    If you wanted to “rank representatives on how accountable and responsive they are to their constituents,” then you would only take information about how Reps/Sens respond to their actual constituents – not to everybody who calls.

  3. Why should we only be expected to talk to our own representatives? I mean, I get the idea, but seriously, you’re saying that I shouldn’t contact about 98% of the people that make laws governing what I can and cannot do.

    Hell, I’m too young to vote anyways, but that don’t stop me from calling my reps occasionally. I still gotta live by their laws.

  4. I’m not saying that you can’t contact them. I’m saying that when run-of-the-mill Congressional offices are flooded with calls from all over the country, it doesn’t really accomplish anything other than annoying the wildly underpaid young staffers who answer the phones.

    Most Reps and Senators probably don’t care if they get 100 calls from out of their state on an issue. They’re more concerned (and rightly so) with the five calls from where they actually represent.

  5. Woo is correct. Urza9814, you can call them, but there is no reason on earth why they should care what you think. And they don’t. And you can’t vote for (or against) them.

    This nifty little tool is uncomfortably close to spam for my tastes.

  6. One small step for a man. One giant leap for democracy. If we had more of these kinds of things ordinary people could take over the government or at least force it to function to serve OUR interests.

  7. Thanks for the Christmas prezzie, Cory.

    It’s true that, generally, legislators are only interested in hearing from their constituents. However, if they sit on committees (or are caucus leaders or Speaker of the House), they can’t avoid the attention and usually have some way for out-of-state people to contact them. They usually only reply to their own constituents, however.

    That’s why the phone is the best way to reach them – you can usually get an immediate answer from their staff about your questions. They don’t even ask where you’re calling from, I’ve found, so they don’t know whether you’re a constituent or not unless you tell them.

  8. Legislators need to get used to the idea that they have a national constituency. Jim Webb (random example, honest) would not be in the Senate today if not for the efforts of many people outside Virginia. Just a thought.

  9. @6: This doesn’t help democracy any more than spamming the FCC to censor Janet Jackson’s Superbowl broadcast. It gave a dozen angry parents in the Midwest the power to make networks never show anything possibly controversal again.

    or did I misunderstand what your thingy does?

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