State representative Matt Manweller (R-Ellensburg) does not like form e-mails. He detests them so much, in fact, that he's developed a form e-mail of his own in response.
Evidence of Mansplaining Manweller's pet peeve surfaced after the Washington Working Family Coalition encouraged its members to support House Bill 1116, a piece of legislation that would provide 26 weeks of paid family leave for a birth or an adoption as well as 12 weeks of leave for an employee's serious illness. HB 1116 will be considered in the House Appropriations Committee, where Manweller serves.
According to the Washington Working Family Coalition, at least six people who used a Washington Working Family Coalition form letter to write to Manweller were met with another form letter from Manweller's office.
"I know we live in a microwave/MTV/give it to me now culture," the e-mail read, "but if this bill is truly important to you, can't you take the time to give me your own thoughts rather than those of highly paid, hired gun from a special interest group lobbying firm?"
The full letter is below.
Thank you for taking the time to write my office about the paid family leave bill. I would take your input far more seriously however, if you bothered to write your own email and express your own thoughts rather than cutting and pasting a letter that someone else has written for you.
Active citizenship requires a little effort on your part. I know we live in a microwave/MTV/give it to me now culture but if this bill is truly important to you, can't you take the time to give me your own thoughts rather than those of highly paid, hired gun from a special interest group lobbying firm?
Representative Matt Manweller
Washington State District 13
The people who wrote the letter, including Washington Working Family Coalition communications director Jack Sorensen, are not registered lobbyists. (FWIW, Sorensen also says he does not consider himself "highly paid.") The Washington Working Family Coalition is headed up by the Economic Opportunity Institute (EOI), a Seattle nonprofit that promotes policies like paid family leave, early childhood education, and progressive taxation.
"We're working for a coalition that involves EOI and workers, and groups like the YWCA, and my job for this was to make it easy for people who don't have time to write an e-mail," Sorensen said.
Manweller, who confirmed the form e-mails sent from his office were authentic, at first insisted that they were plagiarism and generated by big money. (Some of the e-mails Manweller received had "Fuse Washington," the largest progressive organization in the state, in the body of the text. Sorensen later clarified that the Working Family Coalition used Fuse's action kit software, but didn't use their e-mail list or other resources.) When The Stranger informed Manweller that the e-mails were not created by lobbyists or sent out to the Fuse Washington mailing list, Manweller wrote in an e-mail, "Ok. But I had no way of knowing that. But I stand by my comments about generated e-mails."
The Stranger also asked Manweller if "give it to me now culture" might ever apply to employers who skimp on paid family and medical leave and insist their employees return to work ASAP. The legislator did not respond to that question.