[Plugin: WPCongress] Excellent Start!
Don’t have much need for the contact information, but the future feature for bill tracking will be quite useful! Let me suggest that you include the ability to single-out a Representative or Senator for those of us who track specific individuals.
Thanks for the suggestion — I will try to include MOC-specific tracking in an upcoming revision!
Thank you for putting together this long needed plugin. I looked at your help page and here to find more info on congressmen email addresses. The database that is providing contact data is providing web form links. However most of these links are obsolete.
I looked at your code and did print_r($c) on array that holds the received congressman info. Below is the sample. There is all kind of information there except for email address. And this for my purposes is the most important bit. There is field for email, but all of the email info is empty. I am using WP Congress contact info on website that is encouraging it’s members to respond to congressmen in regards to various bills. Preferred way of doing this is writing an email to congressman. If webforms were working this would be sufficient way of contacting them but they don’t. Is there anything that can be done to provide email info in congressmen database?
stdClass Object ( [legislator] => stdClass Object ( [website] => http://www.house.gov/baca/ [fax] => 202-225-8671 [govtrack_id] => 400009 [firstname] => Joe [middlename] => [lastname] => Baca [congress_office] => 2245 Rayburn House Office Building [phone] => 202-225-6161 [webform] => http://www.house.gov/baca/zipauth.shtml [youtube_url] => [nickname] => [congresspedia_url] => http://www.opencongress.org/wiki/Joe_Baca [district] => 43 [title] => Rep [eventful_id] => P0-001-000016137-3 [in_office] => 1 [senate_class] => [name_suffix] => [twitter_id] => BacaCA43 [birthdate] => 1947-01-23 [bioguide_id] => B001234 [fec_id] => H6CA42099 [state] => CA [crp_id] => N00007089 [official_rss] => http://www.house.gov/baca/ [gender] => M [party] => D [email] => [votesmart_id] => 8039 ) )
thanks for your efforts!
I think I answered your question in a separate email, but for the benefit of others who may ask I am pasting my reply:
I am aware of this issue and it’s a very frustrating circumstance! The Sunlight Foundation gives you an immense amount of data to work with, but only 20 or so members of Congress offer their email address.
Unfortunately this is intentional on the part of Congress — crying “spam” and out of concern for fraudulent communications most members of Congress opted a few years ago to discontinue their direct email addresses in favor of web-based forms. As you can imagine, this is incredibly frustrating and has made it more difficult for many constituents to communicate with their representatives. The forms they use are not standardized, so they are not easy to parse, and some require extensive amounts of information or CAPTCHAs, further reducing completion rate. There are several service providers out there that either attempt to parse forms or fax messages to congressional officials (the big ones are: Convio, Democracy In Action, Blackbaud Sphere and Capwiz), but they all have their drawbacks, and depending upon your volume they may charge thousands or tens of thousands of dollars annually.
A free and open source solution may be forthcoming though, and hopefully will become part of WPCongress 🙂
Doesn’t work, at all. I would really love to have something like this on my blog.
Okay, I enabled “Use CURL to grab API data (Sometimes works around weird server settings)” and it now works.
Not to beat a dead horse, but if the plugin provided emails it would be exponentially better. With contact forms there is the parsing issue as mntioned, but more importantly there is no constituent copy when filling out a contact form. Elected officials are more responsive when there is opportunity for follow up, quoting previous email, and having proof, at public metings and such, that contact was made. “Oh yes, I contacted you via email on this issue on mm-dd-yyyy and here is the email and points it made. This is not new to you.”
It’s also nice to have hard copy of previous emails to hand to media if necessary.
Not being technical, I obviously don’t know the hurdles, but if they could be overcome it would be a tremendous help.
I agree, and I have started work on what I think might be a free, open source solution to this problem.
The trickiest part may be keeping Congressional form information valid over time, but with the right tools I think interested parties online may be able to accomplish this collaboratively. I will update this post when I have further information.
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