WASHINGTON — Zachary LaVigne was a big supporter of Bernie Sanders during last year’s presidential primary, but the Atlanta chiropractor said he kept an open mind after Donald Trump won the election late last year.
That was until the New York businessman began announcing his Cabinet picks.
“It’s one thing if it’s one or two people, but it seems like everyone that he’s picking is just like the worst possible person to put on that job,” he said.
LaVigne’s dissatisfaction prompted him to attend local protests and voice his opposition to Georgia’s two U.S. senators. But as he’s called the offices of David Perdue and Johnny Isakson in recent days, he hasn’t been able to get through to even leave a voicemail.
“If we’re calling them enough and their voicemail boxes are getting full because of that, that’s great,” he said. “But I don’t know if that’s actually the case or if they’re kind of being like ‘we won’t even check the messages so we don’t get new ones.’”
LaVigne was not the only Georgian to report communications problems with the state’s two senators in recent days. And the problem isn’t limited to the Peach State’s congressional delegation.
The Senate’s on-campus administrator reported system-wide voicemail problems on Monday as civil engagement has surged in the dawn of Trump’s administration. “Our engineers are continuing to work the issue,” a recent Senate-wide bulletin read.
Georgia’s Capitol Hill offices say they’ve been barraged by calls from both inside and outside the state by people expressing opinions for and against Trump, his nominees and various policy proposals. Given current manpower and storage space, they said, it’s been virtually impossible to keep up.
“We have had an uptick of several thousands of phone calls along with hundreds of tweets and emails on topics included, but not limited to, presidential executive orders and cabinet nominees, with folks contacting us on both sides of each issue,” said Amanda Maddox, an Isakson spokeswoman.
As an experiment, our colleagues at the AJC fanned out to see if they could get through to Georgia’s congressional delegation earlier this week .
On the Senate side, callers got two busy signals but were able to leave a voicemail on a third try. Isakson’s district office had voice mail set up to take a message; Perdue’s district office was nothing but busy signals.
Our colleagues had an easier go of it when calling the state’s 14 House members. In 11 of those D.C. offices, callers were able to get through and given the opportunity to leave a message. Every caller was able to get a person in a district House office.
Both Isakson and Perdue’s offices have been pushing people to reach out online instead of over the phone as they continue to wade through constituent messages:
Here’s the guidance Maddox from Isakson’s office sent out: “We urge constituents who would like to reach out office and share their views to contact us through the website at https://www.isakson.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-me or on Twitter by tweeting to @SenatorIsakson.”