Though retiring Congressman Dave Reichert is still collecting a paycheck from his constituents, he apparently doesn't want to hear what they have to say anymore.
Tuesday morning, members of Indivisible Washington 8 attempted to call Reichert to ask him to vote against a number of bills slated for next week—including the bad Farm Bill—but found his district office phones disconnected. When they called his D.C. office phone, they were met with a recording from Reichert thanking constituents for letting him "serve them for the last 14 years" and instructing them to contact Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell if they needed help. That message has since been replaced with an automated recording saying that the line is "a nonworking number at the U.S. House of Representatives."
Votes have been canceled this week due to the death of George H. W. Bush, but Congress is still in session. The regularly scheduled legislative program will pick up next Monday and continue through Dec. 13. Reichert last voted YES on a name change to an official government title on November 30. He should be around—he's just ghosting his own district.
Jason Galanes, chief of staff for retiring Republican Congressman Frank LoBiondo (NJ-2), told me over the phone that there is "no standard" exit procedure for retiring members of Congress.
"Every member runs their office individually," Galanes said. "With retiring and defeated members, some decide 'that’s it' and some decide they’re going to go til January 3 at 11:59 am—it’s very individual." Galanes added that LoBiondo's staff is still clearly answering the phones, and that the Congressman will still be showing up for votes.
Zach, a staffer for retiring Democratic Congressman Gene Green (TX-29), said that his boss is "keeping as much contact available for as long as he can." Though all outgoing members of Congress have to vacate their D.C. office at the end of November, many redirect D.C. lines to district offices so constituents can still stay in touch.
"Once there are no more legislative days, there really isn’t a need to staff the communications lines for legislative issues," he added. "In regards to casework, we’ll keep doing that and hand it off to the incoming member."
So, in cutting off lines of communication, Reichert is not following some standard procedural shutdown of his Congressional offices. He's showing us what kind of Congressman he is and has always been. The kind who doesn't show up for town halls. The kind who dreams of putting "hard doors"—and even landlords—between him and the people he claims to serve. The kind who doesn't want input from the people he represents because he thinks he knows better.
Right now we're gassing refugees at the border, cutting food stamps for poor people, and making it harder for sexual assault survivors to report violence to their schools. And while reps like Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal have are going out of their way to do something about all that, Reichert has decided to go silent. This is his legacy.