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Aide's comments
to legislator accidentally sent to constituent

Aide's comments
to legislator accidentally sent to constituent

A Crestwood, Ky., accountant who asked her state representative to support gay rights legislation next year received a reply not from the lawmaker but from an aide, who mistakenly sent comments meant for the legislator to the constituent. "This is one of those issues where it's safe to say, 'Thanks for writing, I will consider your views,' and not go too far about your personal beliefs," wrote aide Cheryl Long of the Legislative Research Commission to Rep. David Osborne, a Republican from Prospect, Ky. "Seriously, these people really can get out of hand!...This particular group is much worse than pro-lifers!" "If you reply to Ms. Amanda, make sure you delete my e-mail!" Long said of answering the e-mail from Amanda McWane. Then Long mistakenly hit "reply" instead of "forward," sending her comments to McWane, and not to Osborne as Long intended. McWane, 29, said Monday she had never tried to contact a politician until last week, when the Kentucky Fairness Alliance sent e-mails suggesting that supporters write lawmakers about civil rights protection for sexual orientation. "At that point, I didn't even know who my representative was," said McWane, who sent her e-mail to Osborne on Wednesday. "But it's a pretty important issue to me." Long did not return calls seeking comment. LRC director Robert Sherman said the aide apologized to McWane upon realizing her mistake. She won't be punished. "She pushed the wrong button," Sherman said. "E-mail is a modern marvel, but if you're not careful, it can get you in a bit of a pickle." McWane said she accepted Long's apology and isn't angry. She hasn't heard back from her legislator. "It would be nice to know how he actually feels about it, one way or the other," she said. Osborne, who won a special election to the house in May, did not return calls seeking comment. Andrea Hildebran, executive director of the Kentucky Fairness Alliance, said the aide's reply confirmed a suspicion that capitol insiders don't view gays and lesbians as constituents worth a few minutes of discussion. "The problem here is not just that a legislator would follow the advice that an aide gives him--'Thank you very much, but I'm not going to tell you what I think'--but that a legislator would be told not to take our issues seriously," she said. "It seems in her e-mail like we're some sort of burden." (AP)

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