Update 1: May 2010: Shortly after I wrote this post, I got a follow up email from a member of Sen. Feingold’s staff with the correct email response. The next day, I got a phone call from a different member of the staff apologizing and asking if they could do anything else to help me and yesterday, I received an snail mail copy of the email response with Sen. Feingold’s signature. This morning, I got an update from one of his staffers about new changes to the Banking Bill that seem to help change the original problems. While it did take a negative blog post to get the correct response, I am impressed that Feingold’s staff has been this diligent about my blog post. I changed the title to add “(might not)” because I don’t think it’s fair that when people Google “vote Russ Feingold” my post comes up 5th.
Update 2: October 2016: After six years of Sen. Ron Johnson and Russ Feingold’s seeming rejuvenation, I’m supporting Russ for Senate in 2016. We need a Senator who will bring a different perspective than the vast majority of senators and isn’t afraid to stand up for things he believes in. We need the only Senator to vote against the Patriot Act back in government.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about how the new banking bill would screw up angel investing in the US. The bill plans to raise accredited investor levels by over 2x and institutes new regulation on angel investment. It treats angels like hedge funds, which is wrong. In the comments, someone asked how we could fight the bill. I answered that I didn’t really know, but would email both of my Senators, Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl.
I sent them both a shortened version of my blog post with a little background about me through their official Washington senate emails. I have yet to hear back from Senator Kohl, which is what I expected. Aside from making sure that the Milwaukee Bucks stay in Milwaukee and donating $25m to get his name on the Kohl Center, Kohl really hasn’t done anything for as long as I can remember.
I figured that I would get a response from Senator Feingold, since generally more involved and he’s up for re-election in November and some are predicting it will be a close race. He (or more likely someone from his staff) emailed me back today, 3 full weeks later, which isn’t too bad. I assume he gets hundreds, if not thousands of emails every day.
So here’s why I won’t vote for Feingold in November. I wrote to him about the angel investment changes in the tax bill, but here’s what I got back (emphasis added):
Dear Mr. Lustig,
Thank you for contacting me regarding your support for having private student loans be regulated by a consumer financial protection agency. I appreciate hearing from you, and strongly agree with you. In fact, I am a cosponsor of an amendment to the financial regulatory bill which would extend consumer financial protection agency regulations to student loans.
Access to high quality public education should be available to all children, and access to higher education should be based on a student’s desire to gain knowledge and skills, not financial resources. As I travel throughout Wisconsin, I hear from many individuals who cannot attend college or other post secondary training programs without financial aid. I also hear from students who are extremely concerned about their growing debt as they try to finance their education. I support efforts to make education beyond high school available and affordable to qualified individuals who wish to pursue it.
Thank you again for contacting me. For more information about my work on behalf of Wisconsin, you can subscribe to my monthly e-newsletter by visiting http://feingold.senate.gov/newsletter.cfm. I look forward to hearing from you in the future.
Feingold (or his staff) couldn’t be bothered to actually respond to my email. I took the time to write him an email, the least he could do is make sure he wrote me back about the issue I wrote about! I understand it is most likely a mistake, but it’s a mistake that shouldn’t happen. It shows that he (or his staff) don’t really care about the people who write him emails. I know I’m not the only person who’s had a similar experience, as I’ve talked to two other people who have written to Feingold and never gotten any response. To be honest, I’d have rather not gotten any response than the one above.