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Lawmaker, AARP tangle over email barrage
[March 21, 2013]

Lawmaker, AARP tangle over email barrage

SPRINGFIELD, Mar 21, 2013 (Chicago Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- -- Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, said he has gotten so many "canned" emails from AARP members opposed to ComEd-backed legislation he is sponsoring that he is demanding that the senior citizen advocacy group "cease and desist." "I would like to know the email addresses of everybody whose name they used to email me," he said. The emails, he said, were sent by a no-reply email address that made it impossible for him to respond. "We as legislators should not just be pincushions. We have the right and the obligation to get back to our constituents." AARP said the emails were not canned and included email addresses, and were sent by members who chose to click on an email link.

"I'm sorry, Lou Lang, that your feelings are hurt over these emails, but the issue here is the bill and the fact that we're all getting higher (electricity) rates because of you," said Nancy Funk, a member of AARP's lobby team.

A House committee hearing on the legislation Wednesday turned into a public chiding of AARP. The legislation is aimed at adjusting a formula that determines how ComEd gets reimbursed by ratepayers for its massive $1 billion overhaul of the electrical grid.

The smart grid bill passed through the House committee without discussion. It already passed the state Senate and is expected to pass the House this week.

Lang said Wednesday that he expects the Gov. Pat Quinn to veto the bill.

AARP, which has been trying to win over votes to make the veto stick, said it has no plans to stop the emails to Lang.

"I know he doesn't like the calls, he doesn't like the emails, but it's a part of the job," said Scott Musser, associate state director at AARP.

"We're not scared," Musser said.

Lang said he just wants to be able to tell the hundreds of people who emailed why he supports the bill, which he said is not about raising electric rates.

"I spot-checked those names," he said. "I picked up the phone and found a few of those people and called them and they said, 'What email '" Twitter @littlewern ___ (c)2013 the Chicago Tribune Visit the Chicago Tribune at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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