Lawmakers practice censorship on capitol access

Representative Larry Galizio The Tolerant
By Michelle Knopp, Oregon Right to Life

“Can you please remove us from your e-mail list and cease from dropping paper flyers in our office in-box.”

This sounds like a reasonable request. We all receive too much junk mail through mail and email. However, the information being rejected in the above request is neither emails for cheap pharmaceuticals nor catalogs for the latest trend-setters. The information being rejected is advocacy handouts by a grassroots organization. In addition, the speaker is not just a private citizen, but is State Representative Larry Galizio’s (D-Beaverton) office.

Rep. Galizio’s Legislative Assistant, Katherine Ryan, informed Oregon Right to Life that they are no longer welcome to email the office or deliver flyers to the office inbox. (Now, before you dismiss this as an “abortion issue”, replace the name of ORTL with your favorite grassroots organization — Taxpayers Association of Oregon, Oregonians in Action, etc.) Rep. Galizio’s office is in a public building, both the email and the office inboxes are paid for with taxpayer dollars and he is an elected representative. Yet Rep. Galizio’s office believes it is acceptable to pick and choose who can contact his office. What hubris.

During a legislative session, legislators and their offices are often inundated with advocacy information. Whether or not the information is wanted, it comes and comes and comes. It is part of the process and part of American’s love of free speech. Legislators are not required to embrace this information, but are expected to act with professionalism and be considerate of different opinions. What precedent would be set if Legislators decided differing opinions were no longer welcome and only their friends could email or drop off fliers?

Rep. Galizio’s office will continue to receive information from ORTL. His office can recycle, delete or put it on their dartboard. What they do with the information is their prerogative. What is not Galizio’s prerogative is to forbid any organization from appealing to a legislative office on behalf of their membership.

Merriam-Webster defines tolerance as, “sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own.” It is a shame that Rep. Galizio is so intolerant.

–Michelle Knopp is the Assistant Political Director for Oregon Right to Life.

Here are examples of the outrageous free speech items left in Galizio’s inbox.

Clearly offering statistical facts or introducing ideas by licensed professionals is now a dire threat to democracy and much be blacklisted.

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Posted by at 06:05 | Posted in Measure 37 | 27 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Matt Evans

    This same thing happened to me when I was running Oregon Tax Research, but it was Sen. Tony Corcoran (D) who told me he already knew everything there was to know about taxing and spending, and didn’t need to know any more. And people claimed George Bush had no intellectual curiosity!

  • Vernon

    What next? Having seperate front doors for the approved political groups and the unapproved groups? This is really lousy on Galizio’s part.

  • Rusty Shackleford

    You said “What is not Galizio’s prerogative is to forbid any organization from appealing to a legislative office on behalf of their membership.”

    But it doesn’t sound like Galizio’s office has done so at all. It sounds like they asked rather politely and left the decision with you.

    I know of at least 7 Republican offices (and yes, a couple of Democrats) who asked me to please stop giving them information on a particular issue in 2007. At the time, I thought it was just a polite request. I had no idea it was so horribly intolerant!

    Ms. Knopp: Lobbying the Legislature is about creating professional relationships, even with those who disagree with you. And your conduct with one office (especially in such a public manner) will invariably color your interactions with other offices. You aren’t doing any favors for either yourself or your clients by taking a polite request out of context and holding it up as a cheap smear.

    • sagano


      Could you imagine a bill hearing where the chairman says at the beginning, “I only want to hear from Republicans, please no testimony from Democrats. You have the right to testify and I can’t stop you, but I would ask that you kindly leave the room.”

      Sure if you leave the room you can improve your “professional” relationship with the lawmaker, but at what cost? and what kind of relationship is that? What kind of publci process is that?

      The inbox of a legislator is just as sacred as the ballot box.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        Sagano, have you ever been to a hearing in Salem? Try testifying in front of a committee and go drone on and on about the same thing over and over again… Tell me if the Committee Chair doesn’t ask you to wrap it up or get to the point.

        If Ms. Knopp is so offended at Rep. Galizio’s repsonse, I have this question for her:

        I can tell you of several Republican legislators who received RTL endorsements and cash who have exhibited the SAME requests in the same polite manner as Rep. Galizio (albeit on different issues). I wonder if Ms. Knopp is willing to withdraw those endorsements and ask for RTL’s money back? If not, please stop pretending to be offended.

  • Reper

    Let us call this what this is a prohibition on lobbying and citizen participation. What kind of democracy do we want if the emperor politicians get to disqualify one citizen participation over another?

    I mean, we just spent millions remodeling Galizio’s office to make it nicer and better to do his job with a new TV, desk, carpet and now he wants to not do his job. The newly painted walls were not meant to shield him from the public.

  • Carla Axtman


    Rusty’s right. Politics is the art of relationships. While its your prerogative to blog this, it doesn’t speak well of your ability to lobby the legislature.

    It’s apparent that the Representative isn’t forbidding you to lobby him. He’s asking politely that you stop spamming him. Besides, why would you want to continue to send people stuff that they clearly don’t want? It’s kind of like having a phone solicitor constantly calling you while you’re eating dinner.

    Honestly, I don’t know why any other legislators would work with you after this. You’re demonstrating that you’ll blog stuff that is generally not that big a deal–breaking what trust you may have with these folks.

    Not good.

    • Anonymous

      Name me one other blogger with the hubris (got your panties in a bunch Russtina?) to call themselves a “Fellow.” Sheesh.

      • Carla Axtman

        Probably not nearly as many as those who are too cowardly to come out from behind “Anonymous”.

  • PDXOasis

    As a former capitol staffer, I know that the inbox can get a little crazy. I also was lucky enough to work for a legislator who actively looked for issues where he could agree with colleagues on the other side of the aisle, without neglecting his own principles. It’s an effective way to get things done! It is extremely heavy handed for an office to say “no info from you.” Does Rep. Galizio really believe that Oregon Right to Life, a respected organizations with thousands of members across the state (and in his district), has zero helpful information to offer?

  • Gabe

    I ran a Senate office in 2001 and we were situated on the D floor. While we fought hard against their agenda’s on the floor and in committee, we made it a priority to treat them all with respect and civility. As a result, we had good relationships with all of them while still succeeding at our attempts to thwart much of their legislation (remember when we had majorities).

    Telling someone to stop coming by, no matter how “politely” you do it is an absolute slap in the face and shows how Rep Galizio’s office really feels about differing opinions and the process; in as much as he doesn’t. True civility is treating the people who care enough about an issue to spend time going to your office as the concerned active citizens they are, then fighting for what you believe in a respectful manner later. There is no honor in rejecting people and other viewpoints as his office did.

    Congrats to Michelle for being bold enough to post her experience so people could see and respond. Politicians and their offices need the truth to be told far and wide so they can be held accountable. It is the power of grassroots and it needs to live on.

  • Russ Kelley

    Do you live in Tigard? If not, Rep. Galizio does not owe you anything, including access to his inbox. He is accountable only to the residents of his district, and I know for a fact the great weight he gives to their opinions – even the ones he disagrees with.

    Also, you used the word “hubris” incorrectly.

    • CAPOR

      Are you serious? You really believe this Rep represents only your District? He serves the entire state even though he was elected apparently by a group of narrow minded individuals. If you don’t think the rest of us Oregonians don’t have a voice in his seat, pay close attention to the next election cycle and how much money is spent to oust him from outside your district!

    • Mariek

      With this logic, every grassroots organization, as well as lobbying firm, would need 60 lobbyists – one from each House District.

      In addition, I would wager right to life has members in Galizio’s district. These members expect right to life to do their job and work for the cause they believe in at the capitol. Seems like that would include giving their Representative, Galizio, information.

  • Steely Dan

    Too damn bad — Oregon Right to Life has members who think nothing of calling those of us who are pro-choice “baby-killers” and “pro-aborts” so why should we take you seriously, let alone read your propaganda? If I were a representative, I’m not sure I’d pay much attention to ideologically orientated groups with which I disagree either, particularly those that would hold me in such contempt.

    It’s perfectly reasonable, given its past behavior and rhetoric, for Rep. Galizo to tell Oregon Right to Life to take a hike.

    Here’s a news flash: if you want more access to the legislature, back candidates who have a shot at winning elections.

  • leinad

    “Can you please remove us from your e-mail list and cease from dropping paper flyers in our office in-box.”

    If that is all his staffer said, it seems like they are looking for you to come by and schedule a meeting. He may not agree with your policies, but I doubt this action is censorship. What I see here is an office trying to be efficient with information flow. We all know that in this game there is nothing stronger than a face to face. So if you really want Rep. Galizo’s attention, drop by his office and stop spamming his e-mail box and paper mail box. Now get back to work and stop whining.

  • Anonymous

    Please don’t excuse him. Its insulting.

  • Anon

    Hubris: “a term used in modern English to indicate overweening pride, superciliousness, or arrogance, often resulting in fatal retribution.” Seems an accurate use to me.

    • Russ Kelley

      Hubris implies that the action manifested by the pride leads to the downfall of the actor. Somehow I doubt “please stop spamming me” is going to lead to Rep. Galizio’s ouster.

      She used “hubris” when she should have used something more akin to “arrogance.”

      Also, Wikitionary? Really? Get yourself a real dictionary.

      • Anon again

        Aristotle, in Rhetoric:

        Retaliation is not hubris, but revenge.…Young men and the rich are hubristic because they think they are better than other people.

        I like this one better than Wiki, too. Still fits.

        • Sagano

          How about hubriatic?

        • Vernon

          Or just plain full of hoey

  • Anonymous

    He is from Tigard, just to be clear.

  • Kathryn

    “What is not Galizio’s prerogative is to forbid any organization from appealing to a legislative office on behalf of their membership.”

    Oregon Right to Life has every right to contact elected officials on behalf of their constituency. I am surprised that an elected representative would allow his office to request that a large and respected policy organization desist from making contact with him on any issue of concern to those it represents.

    Planned Parenthood is among the 16 organizational supporters listed on Rep. Galizio’s website ( To accept funding from the largest abortion provider in the nation while requesting that Oregon Right to Life desist from giving him information from the opposing viewpoint is unconscionable.

  • E.J.

    As a constituent of Rep. Galizio and a supporter of Oregon Right to Life I am offended, but not surprised, by the actions of Galizio’s staff, and I called his office to tell him so.

  • Mariek

    It is wrong for _any_ legislative office to conduct themselves in this manner – regardless of party.

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