The problem with extremists like Renee Ellmers

Via email

I am a constituent of the 2nd district (at least until 2013.) I called Ellmers' office at the end of May and was treated horribly by two male interns who answered the phone. One accused me of being rude and insulting the representative and would need to end the call because I had nothing constructive to say. The next day another one started debating with me about my opinions, raising his voice with me, insulting and laughing at me for anything I said. He even accused me of not believing in the freedom of religion.

What kind of mind games are they playing with the constituents especially if they oppose what the representative is doing?

This is an all-too-familiar experience for citizens who have to deal with the people who staff offices of teabaggers like Renee Ellmers.

Note 1. If you are a staff member in a Congressional office, listen up: No citizen gives a flip what you personally think about anything. We are not calling to talk to you. In fact, you are nothing but a highly paid secretary whose only job is to answer the damn phone and communicate exactly what we say to your boss. You may never express your personal views and you may NEVER argue with a citizen.

Note 2. Congresswoman Ellmers, you need to fire the jerks you have staffing your offices. This is the sixth time I've heard such complaints from people in your district, having also experienced them myself. For the record, you and your staff work for everyone in your district, not just those who happen to agree with your reckless policies.


What exactly did the

What exactly did the constituent call her office about? While her policies indicate she's an extremist, I need a little more detail than this email to just go ahead and take the person's word for it that Ellmers' staffers were rude and dismissive. There is very little detail here.

Enough detail for me

Any staffer accusing a constituent of anything is out of bounds. It doesn't matter whether the caller is a jerk or not. The staffer's job is to listen and pass the information to Ellmers. Period.

You're right.

The starting salary for secretaries with no experience ranges from $18,000 to $25,000. Similar for receptionists with no experience. So yeah, these folks are not highly paid.

However, they are apparently being paid more than they're worth.

Wait, don't we advocate a

Wait, don't we advocate a living wage? Hypocrisy hurts our cause.

This is not about wages

This is about the performance.

If a Congressional staffer can't control him or herself enough to avoid arguing with constituents, the staffer should be fired. It's not that complicated.

I wouldn't go that far. I

I wouldn't go that far. I actually find it annoying when I call a representative's office and I get a robot on the other line who won't even tell me the congressperson's position and reasoning on something.

We're talking about the office of a publicly elected representative, not a corporate CEO.

I really don't understand the point of even posting such an unsubstantiated claim, unless you personally know enough of the person making it you can vouch for their character. Do you not have some responsibility in your job as a blogger on Blue NC to try and post the truth, best you can? Even as an opinion blogger? I can understand a post along the lines an email today from someone who said they had a bad experience, have you had a similar one when calling Ellmers' office?

But you didn't.

Congresswoman Ellmers

I am so sorry that this individual was treated this way. That being said, I have not had the same experience, quite the opposite actually.

Do tell

Would love to hear a story of Ellmers' staff generously listening to a person who disagreed with her positions.

James: "If you are a staff

James: "If you are a staff member in a Congressional office, listen up: No citizen gives a flip what you personally think about anything. We are not calling to talk to you. In fact, you are nothing but a highly paid secretary whose only job is to answer the damn phone and communicate exactly what we say to your boss. You may never express your personal views and you may NEVER argue with a citizen."

Speak for yourself. I would never have such a condescending view of the person tasked with answering the phone. Who also happens to be a citizen and a human being. And judging by your own attitude, I don't think it's a job you could hack for a single day without going off on someone.

I always speak for myself

That's why I sign my name to what I write.

And you are correct. I wouldn't and couldn't do the job of listening to disgruntled citizens. In fact, a Congressperson would be a fool to hire someone like me. But apparently, Ellmers has.

It would be interesting to hear what others think, so please weigh in. How many of you would welcome being lectured by the person who answers the phone in your congressperson's office?

Prove this conversation

Prove this conversation actually took place, AND that the caller wasn't the one who was initially rude and abusive, and I'll shut up. Admitting that you would be a jerk if you were in the job is pretty cool, but you're still expecting someone to behave in a way that you don't expect of yourself...which reminds me of righwingers!

Doesn't matter

The caller could have been a total asshole and it wouldn't matter one bit. Staffers are not elected officials. They don't get to argue with citizens. Period. And if they do, they should be fired.

After 40 years of business and military service (my two careers), I can say without hesitation that if one of my assistants argued with a client or superior officer in an impromptu conversation, he or she would be disciplined on the spot.

To be clear, I am not an elected official. I don't work for a Congressperson. taxpayers don't pay my salary. I can say whatever the hell I please and my main consequence is having to put up with comments like yours.

I can, should, and do hold public employees to a higher standard. These staffers work for you and me.

I don't have proof that this actually happened. All I have is a lengthy email which seemed (1) authentic and (2) similar to my own experiences.

Signing off for now. Have a nice weekend.

Please do enjoy the weekend,

Please do enjoy the weekend, but I have to say, your position now seems to be that not only do you have a problem with a rude staffer - of which I would share your opinion that such behavior is wrong - but you also have a problem with a staffer saying anything much more than a robotic "I'll pass on your comments."

Again, this is a legislative office, not the CEO's office at Best Buy.

The conversation is taking place in a representative democracy about matters of civic interest. It's not a complaint about a defective camcorder.

IF the tone is respectful, I have no problem with a staffer who would take the time to engage in adult, mannered, candid debate with me. Especially since I'll likely never have such an opportunity with their boss, who is typically not available. I'm assuming - or at least hoping - the staffer is versed with that representative's views.

The person answering the phone

is a conduit to the elected official, not a filter. People don't call to argue with a staff member, they call to make their opinion known to and by the elected official. Period.

That doesn't just serve the (often disgruntled) constituent, it serves the elected offficial as well. It lets him/her know there is a potential problem, that may need to be fixed.

And just so you know, we have constituents here at BlueNC as well. They are our readers. And when they reach out to us, whether it's via e-mail or fricking telepathy, we pay attention. We may not always act on said requests, but each and every one of them gets looked at.

Well, since everyone is weighing in...'s my two cents. Renee Ellmers represents a set of positions and a Party that won't exactly get her an unbiased jury on this site, except when she flips to something you wanna hear (i.e.- her Marriage Amendment comments). Just sayin'. Aside from that,and from what I've heard of and from her, these staffers as described, behave a lot like her so at least we know who their role model is. Secondly, she's not Tea Party (or so she recently said) and if she's an extremist, we need to come to an agreement on what that word means....she values her job, her patronage, and her new legislative career too much to actually take principled stands on things that the people who sent her to D.C. in the first place, expect her to do. In other words, she's a puppet.

Being a current resident of

Being a current resident of district 2 (I got drawn out starting in 2013)I have had an opportunity to cross paths with Rep. Ellmers and these staffers. At a "townhall" meeting when the Ryan plan was introduced I found Rep. Ellmers and her staff to be anything but helpfull and respectful. First the meeting was suppose to be for two hours. That day without telling anyone they changed it to one hour. It was also very poorly promoted. The word went out to those more friendly to her positons and the general public hardly heard a word. When she arrived a few minutes before the start time she came in the back way with a police escort (?)and avoided those waiting. They wouldn't let anyone into the meeting hall before the start and despite arriving 15 minutes early the meeting didn't start until 15 minutes after they were suppose to. She began the meeting by telling everyone that they would view a powerpoint (Ryan plan PR) and only then would she take questions. She then spent 30 minutes on the powerpoint. So now there were only 15 minutes left (should have been and hour and 15 minutes) and she told everyone that she would take (if I remember correctly)8 questions or until time ran out. She then attempted to cherry pick her questioners. Fortunately she called on a young minister in a suit that obviously was a conservative evangelical, or so she thought. The minister (who was also a veteran) asked a tough, intelligent question and when she bobbed and weaved he attempted to followup. He tried his best but to no avail. When the time reached an hour she had taken maybe 5 or 6 questions mostly supportive softball type questions. She refused to answer any others, refused to consider any extention even with at least 10 people with their hands raised and referred us to her staff, promising to respond to any written questions later. Throughout all of this most of us were respectful but there were three or four people that were not. They interupted her a couple of times to question assertions maded during the powerpoint and shouted at her in frustration a few times. The rest of the people there conducted themselves respectfully but by the end of this farce it was very frustrating. I felt like I had completely wasted my time and more importantly that I had been disrespected by my congresswoman. So in my experience I found Rep. Ellmers to be distant, unresponsive and unconcerned about anyone other than those that completely agreed with her. It appeared to me that her handlers and staff made every effort to insulate her from the people of her district. They manipulated the interaction, misrepresented the details of the meeting and the content of the meeting. It doesn't speak very well of her or her staff. I have little doubt of the general assertions made in the original post. We are pretty use to this sort of thing now. In fact not only are Democrats use to it but so are those in the tea party movement who have observed the same types of things from the other side of the spectrum.

I'm a moderate Democrat.