The Hill on The Net
Electronic Update #17


Senator Daniel Akaka's debut on the web last week marked a milestone of note for the online Senate. The Hawaii Senator became the 99th Senator of the 106th Congress with a home page, making Senate Democrats the first completely online Congressional caucus (satisfied grin), and providing the answer to a trivia question that may some day win you a bet, Who was the last remaining offline Senator?

The answer is Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Republican from Colorado. This is a little surprising for two reasons. First, because Campbell used to have a web page. At the time my book was published he had a page hosted at '' that seemed to be an official site, authorized by the Senator. But eventually the page disappeared, and now so has falcontech. The second reason his absence is surprising is that Campbell is a member of the class of '98 and faces re-election this fall, and as we've seen in the past many incumbents pay new attention to their official web sites when election day approaches. His campaign does not appear to be online either.

The Colorado primary is on August 11th, and so the Senate's 60-day freeze rule is currently in effect and would keep Campbell offline at this time even if he was ready with a web. But from August 12th until September 4th (when the general election freeze kicks in), he'll have a window of opportunity to get online before election day, becoming the last Senator with a homepage, rather than just the last without. Wait and see.

Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI)

Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) - Senate generic page

Certainly you know by now that the tobacco bill has died in the Senate. It's still to be taken up in the House, but the likelihood of Congress passing any major tobacco legislation this Congress is way into slim to none territory. But last April (I told you it had been a long time), the House Commerce Committee made more than 39,000 subpoenaed tobacco company documents available on their web site. According to a Washington Post story on April 27, 400 documents that were not intended for public distribution where also posted, at least long enough for some reporters and attorneys to download them (the genie escaped) before they were removed.

The collection, since grown, is not exactly easy to browse. The documents are mostly in TIFF format, with some PDFs, and they are organized in ways I'm sure only tobacco company secretaries and attorneys understand. But for the persistent peruser, it's a trove to explore.

House Commerce Committee - Tobacco Documents

But enough about smoking, let's move onto drinking. Many companies and trade associations have begun to use the Internet as a means of developing public support for their issues and lobbying Congress. This site from Anheuser-Busch's campaign to roll back the beer tax makes great use of the ever popular Top Ten list to make their case (full disclosure: I've been known to enjoy a beer and may show some bias here *^)

I'm partial to reason #5 myself, and who can argue with Ben Franklin's reasoning? But whichever reason you like best you have to enjoy this humorous approach towards making a point (while sneaking some real information to you before you notice). Explore the site further, and you can learn about Joe & Jane Sixpack (more disclosure: I'm Joe).

Top Ten Reasons to Roll Back the Beer Tax

'Bulk Email the Senate and save the Planet' That was the subject line of the e-mail message I received from a woman name Matilda who went on to say,

Help big nanny stop the insanity. Everyday, our environment is going downhill and children go hungry. Communicate with your elected representatives and let them know that enough is enough.

The site is very much like the many other 'spam Congress' sites that invite netizens to 'Click Here to E-mail EVERY member of Congress'. These sites can sadly delude the sender into believing they're having a louder electronic voice in Congress when the reality is that spam messages such as these are most likely to be filtered out and deleted unread upon arrival on Capitol Hill.

But there is one weird twist to this particular site, and they call it Senate TV. If you tire of the chore of exploring the web pages of individual Senators, looking for streaming RealVideo files to watch, then tune into Senate TV where you can conveniently watch welcome messages, speeches, cable shows and press conferences all strung together for your viewing pleasure. Just don't cancel your cable yet.

United States Senate Bulk E-mail Server

That's all for now!



Copyright 1998 by Chris Casey

Electronic Updates #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7 ,#8, #9, #10, #11, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16 & #18.

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