Meeting With Your Representative
When you meet with your representative or the representative’s staff, talk
about the importance of public funding of elections, and ask that she or he
signs on as a co-sponsor to the Fair Elections Now Act.
While it can be daunting to think of discussing issues you care about with
members of Congress, it’s important to remember that they work for you!
Tips for Meeting with your representative:
Get your contacts. Call either your representative’s
district office nearest you or the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 to be
connected with your representative’s Capitol Hill office. Ask for the name of
the in-district scheduler, and ask also for the appropriate fax number or email
and format to use to submit a request.
Request a meeting. Send the scheduler a copy of your request
for a meeting via fax and/or email. Include information on who will attend the
meeting, what groups you are affiliated with, which issues you’d like to
discuss, and when you would be available to meet (Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and
Monday are usually the best days). The next day, follow up with a call to the
district office. Many of you are veterans of public citizenry and know that
getting a meeting can sometimes be a long and arduous process with staffers
giving you the run-around. Be persistent yet polite, and make it clear that YOU,
the member’s constituent, should be heard. Don’t give up even if you are told
that “the Representative has no time to meet with your delegation” and even if
they don’t return your phone calls - it does pay off in the long run and in most
cases you will eventually be able to sit down with your representative.
Get your coalition together. The more constituents your
delegation represents – in terms of labor leaders, religious leaders, and
well-known community organizations, the more likely your request will be
received and the more likely your visit will influence your member’s vote. If
you’d like to know of other individuals or groups active in your district or
state who may want to join you, ask us at email@example.com. However, keep the
meeting small – bringing more than four or five people can be hard to
Prepare. Be sure to have a phone call or in-person meeting
with your coalition before the meeting, to prep speakers, get on the same page,
practice talking points, and divide up issues. If you don’t know the answer,
offer to look into the question and get back to the senator (this is also an
excellent opportunity to stay in touch).
Build the relationship. If your representative has supported
your or your coalition’s positions in the past, be sure to thank him/her – this
is a good way to begin a meeting.
Ask for something specific. Ask your representative to
co-sponsor the Fair Elections Now Act or publicly announce support for the
Take notes. Jot down your impressions right after the
meeting (don’t distract by taking notes during the meeting). Compare notes with
everyone in your group to understand what the elected official committed to do
and the follow up information you committed to send
Follow up. You should send a thank you note after the
meeting. This is also a good way to remind your representative of the views you
expressed. If commitments were made during the meeting, repeat your
understanding of them.
If the elected official or staff member doesn't meet
the deadline for action you agreed to during the meeting, ask him or her to set
another deadline. Be persistent and flexible!
If you are meeting with your representative, let us know before you meet and
we will rehearse your visit with you over the phone. We’re here to help you have
the best visit possible, and to be used as a resource. Additionally, please
contact us and tell us what you learned during your meeting by sending an e-mail
to firstname.lastname@example.org. Knowing what
arguments were used, what issues are important to him or her, and what positions
he or she took will help us make our national lobbying strategy more