Our Contemptuous Congressman

What happened to a constituent who started asking questions of Congressman Mark Amodei on a daily basis wasn’t – and isn’t – pretty.

I have called the Washington office of our congressman, Mark Amodei, nearly every day for more than 2 ½ years trying to get him to answer a question. Any question.

Most of my questions relate to why Mr. Amodei refuses to say or do anything to hold President Trump accountable for misconduct on a scale never before seen in our country’s history. That includes the president making, by the Washington Post Fact Checker’s count, more than 13,000 false and misleading statements before he’d completed his first 1,000 days in office. That’s an average of more than 13 a day. On some days he told more than 100 lies.

I’ve done what citizens and taxpayers have always been told to do if they have concerns: Contact your representative. And so I have. More than 600 times by phone call alone.

During these calls (I often email the congressman as well using the form at his website), I have never lied to, sworn at, or threatened the congressman or any member of his staff. I most often address the staffers as “my friend.”

In return, I have — many hundreds of times — been lied to, hung up on, and placed on hold for hours at a time. The current record for being left on hold is 7 hours and 11 minutes, after which I was — you guessed it — hung up on at the end of the day when the staff went home.

Don’t believe me? Several months ago I started occasionally taking screen shots on my phone showing the duration of these calls. Have a look.

On multiple days during the spring of 2018, Mr. Amodei’s staff, after recognizing my number on caller ID, would simply lift the receiver and put it down. The sequence would go on for 20 or more times.

Eventually they decided to activate an outgoing message announcing that the office was closed for Veterans Day (observed November 12 that year). The message said the office would reopen on Monday. These staffers were not especially meticulous liars. They did this during March or April.

The most shocking demonstration of Congressman Amodei’s contempt for democracy and his own constituents began in April 2019.

One morning, during my regular call to his Washington, D.C., office (I usually call on my way to work using hands-free), the phone was handed, for the first and last time, to Chief of Staff Bruce Miller. Mr. Miller informed me that he was about to contact the Capitol Police to report that I had threatened to go to the home of an intern and shoot her.

I was stunned. I have never owned a gun or threatened anyone in my life.

After recovering from the shock, I told him to go ahead. I then immediately called the Capitol Police myself and reported Mr. Miller.

As you may have already guessed, he never filed the false police report. A day or two later, everything was back to normal. I spoke to the intern whom I had supposedly threatened to shoot and she acknowledged that I never threatened her in any way.

But that was not the end of it.

Several months later, Congressman Amodei himself, in a phone interview with a columnist from the Reno Gazette-Journal — which he knew was on the record — repeated Mr. Miller’s false accusation. The lie never made it into print because the columnist was on deadline and couldn’t get the Capitol Police’s investigating officer (I supplied her name) to comment in time.

When I learned of this interview I eventually had my lawyer draft a letter to the congressman asking him to stop saying this and issue a retraction. You can read the letter here. It was mailed Sept. 10, 2019. The congressman has yet to respond.

The only time I have been able to communicate directly with my congressman was when I drove to Fernley in August for a weeknight meeting of the Fernley Republican Women. Mr. Amodei was scheduled to speak, and the group’s meetings are advertised as open to the public.

During a break in the meeting, I introduced myself to the congressman. Although his staff had assured  me for more than 2 ½ years that they were sharing all of my hundreds of questions and comments with him, he said he didn’t recognize my name.

Eventually, grudgingly, he allowed me to ask one question.

I asked why he wouldn’t introduce a resolution of censure against President Trump for one of the president’s earliest and most egregious lies, that President Obama illegally tapped his phone in Trump Tower.

He said he wouldn’t do anything like that with Trump because he hadn’t done anything like that with Obama — as if the volume of lying by the two presidents were comparable. Did Obama say President Bush tapped his phone? I missed that.

I then tried asking why his staff continued to hang up on me or place me on hold all day. He cut me off before I could get to the threatened false police report. (This was before Mr. Amodei had repeated the story to the Reno Gazette-Journal.). He said, with no apparent concern, that all of the disrespectful actions toward me had been taken at his direction.

There you have it, Rep. Mark Amodei’s rule for constituent services: If a constituent asks questions the congressman doesn’t care to answer or if the same pest keeps asking to speak to the congressman, treat them like garbage until they stop.

But I’m not going to stop.

To this day, I continue to call Congressman Amodei’s office in Washington nearly every morning seeking answers. I sometimes call the Reno office as well.

The congressman has never consented to schedule a meeting or phone conversation. His supposed scheduler, Jessica Markowitz, refuses to even acknowledge my requests.

Aside from two or three form letters his office has sent me that didn’t address my actual questions, I have never received an answer to any question I have submitted to Mr. Amodei by phone or through the online form. That’s zero answers from more than 600 phone calls over more than 2 ½ years to a person sworn and paid to be a public servant.

In the fall of 2019, however, I hit upon a way to glean answers from my congressman without his cooperation. Read how and see the results here.

My fellow Northern Nevadans, if you decide to submit a question to Congressman Amodei using the form at his website, you might take note of the confirmation message that comes on screen after you hit submit. It reads, in part:

““As your representative in Congress, staying in touch with people in every corner of our district is the best way for my staff and I to ensure we’re always putting our best foot forward for you in Washington. After all, some of the best ideas are community-driven measures from people in Northern Nevada – not from Washington bureaucrats. In order for us to make progress on the issues that affect us all, we must work closely together. That’s why we will continue to focus our constituent services operation around transparency and responsiveness.

“Thanks again for contacting me. I’ll be in touch soon.”