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Lawmakers rely on e-mail, faxes

November 3, 2001

BOISE _ If you want to contact your congressman, think electronic, or think local.

Idaho's congressional delegation hasn't gotten any mail or deliveries at their Washington, D.C., offices since an anthrax-laced letter arrived at U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle's office on Oct. 15.

"Until investigators can determine how anthrax is being spread, we must be creative in communicating with Idahoans, and using electronic technology is a great option," said Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo.

Crapo is having a little easier time than Sen. Larry Craig and Rep. Butch Otter -- at least he can still use his main Washington, D.C., office. Craig, whose office is on the same floor as Daschle's in the Hart office building, has some staffers sharing space in Crapo's office, some in Craig's one-room Capitol Hill office, and some working in committee offices. "We have people all over the place," said Craig spokesman Mike Tracy.

Otter's spokesman, Will Hart, said staffers are temporarily working out of the General Accounting Office and committee offices, and haven't yet been able to get back into their regular office in the Longworth office building.

With no mail deliveries, Idaho's congressional delegation is urging constituents to use e-mail and fax, and to turn to their local offices in Idaho.

Craig has moved two of his staff people from Washington, D.C., to his Boise office to handle constituent mail. Idaho offices are still receiving their mail as usual.

Said Hart, "We don't know what's going to happen to the mail that's built up since they stopped, when Daschle's office was hit. They're still trying to determine whether they'll test all the pieces, irradiate them, or use some electronic way" of detecting or removing any anthrax. "They just haven't determined how they're going to deal with all that now."

Here are the best ways to contact North Idaho's representatives in Congress during this time:

•To reach Crapo by e-mail, go to (tilde)crapo, click on "e-mail," and fill out the form to send e-mail to the senator. Crapo can receive faxes at his Washington, D.C., office at (202) 228-1375, and phone calls there at (202) 224-6142. His Coeur d'Alene office can be reached by mail at 1000 Northwest Blvd., Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814; by phone at (208) 664-5490, or by fax at (208) 664-0889.

•To reach Craig by e-mail, go to (tilde)craig, click on "contact me" and fill out the form to send e-mail to the senator. Craig is also encouraging people to contact their closest Idaho office. In Coeur d'Alene, his office is at 610 Hubbard St., Suite 121, Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814. It can be reached by phone at (208) 667-6130, or by fax at (208) 765-1743.

•To reach Otter by e-mail, send your message to Hart said that's the best way to get a quick message to Otter. For concerns about pending cases such as immigration problems or Social Security questions, he encourages people to contact their closest regional office or Otter's Boise office. In Coeur d'Alene, Otter's office is at 610 W. Hubbard St., Ste. 206, Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814, and it can be reached by phone at (208) 667-0127 or by fax at (208) 667-0310.

Otter's Boise office can be reached at 802 W. Bannock, Suite 101, Boise, ID 83702, by phone at (208) 336-9831, or by fax at (208) 336-9891. Crapo's Boise office can be reached at (208) 334-1776, and Craig's at (208) 342-7985.

Craig's Hart building office in Washington is being fumigated with chlorine gas to kill any possible anthrax, and it's expected to be at least two weeks before it's usable again.

Crapo this week added an electronic "insta-reply" feature to his Senate Internet site to answer frequently asked questions from constituents about current issues, with responses to be updated weekly. He encouraged Idahoans to stay in touch despite the mailing problems.

"The input I receive from Idahoans about issues before the Senate must not become yet another victim of the terrorist attacks," Crapo said.


By Betsy Z. Russell


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