FILE - Sen. Orin Hatch, R-Utah, pauses in the Capitol in Washington in this file photo taken Nov. 18, 2009. Hatch may have been begun a seventh and final
FILE - Sen. Orin Hatch, R-Utah, pauses in the Capitol in Washington in this file photo taken Nov. 18, 2009. Hatch may have been begun a seventh and final term in January, but that's not stopping him from attending fundraisers. The Utah Republican has attended at least five fundraisers to benefit his political action committee since January, and has plans for at least three more such fundraisers, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File) (Alex Brandon)

This is how bad it's gotten.

If you are not a plugged-in lobbyist or generous campaign contributor, but would like to meet with your senator, you might get the cops called on you if you contact his office and ask when he might be in town.

Elise Lazar, who lives in Salt Lake County, Utah, called Sen. Orrin Hatch's Salt Lake City office March 25 to inquire if the senator would be in town over spring break and if he scheduled any town hall meetings.

The receptionist asked why she would want to know that. Lazar said she had concerns about certain issues that she would like to discuss with him and she had friends who might want to attend the meeting as well.

The staffer pushed her on what issues she wanted to discuss, but Lazar was reluctant to tell her because she thought that would diminish her chances of seeing Hatch.

Lazar wanted to express her opposition to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which Democrats generally oppose and Republicans generally favor. She wanted to wait until she actually could meet Hatch so she wouldn't be blown off prematurely.

Finally, the staffer told Lazar the senator would be coming to town but had scheduled no town hall meetings and would be too busy to meet with her.

So that was that.


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But the next day Lazar received a call on her cellphone from the Capitol Hill Police in Washington, D.C., telling her they had received a complaint about her from Hatch's office and that they felt she might be a suspicious person.

Lazar was aghast and let the cop know that. But he wanted to know why she would call Hatch's office asking when he would be in town.

Hatch spokeswoman Heather Barney says the staffer became concerned because Lazar was vague about the purpose of her call and kept pushing on the "comings and goings of Senator Hatch."

Barney said the staffer did not ask the police to contact Lazar; she just wanted to make note of her concerns. That may be true, but they just might have created a monster.

Lazar says that, since the incident, she has heard a strange clicking on her cellphone, and a couple of times there was a strange man's voice on the line just as the person she was calling answered the phone.