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Legistorm pokes Congress in the eye — again

Chip Somodevilla/GETTY IMAGES (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

As members of Congress try to keep their public interactions with constituents on the down-low this summer (for fear, perhaps, of a YouTube-able confrontation over some of the hot-button topics roiling the activist class this August), they’re finding yet another obstacle in their quest for quiescence.

Congress-focused research company Legistorm is combing through Facebook posts, constituent newsletters, Twitter feeds and e-mails to compile a list of town halls, constituent coffees, and the like.

We noted that groups on both sides of the political spectrum were making similar efforts to put the “public” in the public events that lawmakers are hosting in their districts — but often keeping quiet by announcing on short notice or offline and with little fanfare.

This wouldn’t be the first time that Legistorm revealed some information about the doings of the Capitol’s denizens that they’d rather keep under wraps. The company made waves earlier this year with a portal aggregating Hill staffers’ Twitter feeds (which included some decidedly NSFW material), and, of course, aides are constantly grousing about how easy the service makes it to find out their salaries (a good way to screen potential dates).

Legistorm founder Jock Friedly tells the Loop that the data collection “was certainly not intended to” irritate lawmakers.

It’s just something his clients, including grass-roots lobbying organizations and unions, are interested in knowing, he says.  “A lot of groups around town are trying to find this information and having a very, very hard time,” he says. “We’re a data company — this is what we do.”

Irritating lawmakers is just a side effect, apparently.

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.



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