This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
When Julia Silge couldn't reach Sen. Orrin Hatch's office by phone, she thought of another way to get her message through: a ham-and-pineapple pizza.
"It seemed as if all the avenues of communication were shut down or unavailable," Silge said with a laugh as she explained the snap decision.
The unconventional vehicle for her thoughts, she said, came out of weeks of frustration in trying to get a hold of the senator's staff to express her concern over President Donald Trump's pick for secretary of education, Betsy DeVos. All eight calls Silge had made to the office ended at a full voicemail box and then an abrupt hang-up.
Silge, 38, ordered the pizza on GrubHub, an online food service. In the instructions for the $12.99 pie, she included the room number to Hatch's Salt Lake City office and a $10 tip as "extra motivation" for the company to follow through with the order.
The note she requested be taped on top of the greasy cardboard box? "From a Salt Lake constituent in 84105: Please vote NO on Betsy DeVos. She is an inappropriate choice to lead our public schools."
But it didn't deliver.
About two hours after Silge placed the order, a federal security officer reached out to her. "I got a call about a suspicious pizza," he said over the phone. Hatch's office, it turns out, had refused the delivery and reported it to police and Silge's name and number were on the receipt.
"I definitely had a sinking feeling in my stomach," she reflected. "At this point, I'm starting to realize this was maybe not my best thought-out plan."
But though the pizza was trashed, the senator's office saw Silge's post on Twitter a screenshot of the online order which has been retweeted more than 5,000 times and informed Hatch about the message.
"We appreciate all creative efforts to reach Senator Hatch, particularly as we deal with a large volume of out-of-state callers that are preventing Utah constituents from reaching us," the senator's staff said in a prepared statement. "Unfortunately, the pizza did not make it through security screening because the office had not ordered it."
Hatch's office has said robocalls, accounting for 80 percent of incoming messages, have clogged the senator's phone lines and voicemail boxes at a time when residents are calling in unprecedented numbers about Trump's administration, executive orders and Cabinet nominees.
The pizza, Silge said, was an attempt to break through what she sees as a breakdown in communication.
"This was a bit out of character for me," she said. "I am not totally sure why, but it just occurred to me. How could I send a message? How could I get something through to say 'I want to communicate to you. I want to be heard'?"
Silge, who has three kids in the public school system, hopes the senator will vote against DeVos's nomination which is why she picked ham and pineapple as toppings for the pizza.
"It's a divisive, controversial choice," she said, "much like Betsy DeVos."