Congressman David McKinley's most recent "Legislative Update" arrived a few days ago. Here is what I wrote about his last update back at the end of 2014:
If you live in WV’s 1st Congressional District you probably received in the mail Congressman David McKinley’s glossy end-of-the-year report which is mostly a listing of the wonderful things that he has done for his constituency. What McKinley doesn’t tell you is that this "report" is paid for by that same Federal government that he often criticizes for waste and partisan concerns. More to the point is what his website said back in 2010 when he first ran for Congress: "David McKinley believes that it’s wrong to abuse taxpayer money by funding campaign-style "constituent" mailings and phone calls during re-election years." That was listed under "The McKinley Plan for Congressional Reform." At the top of the list, by the way, was "term limits." (How many times have candidates taken the "I’ll work to impose term limits" pledge only to ignore it once they are elected?)
McKinley may be a hypocrite but he is consistent. In 2012, USA Today studied the cost of unsolicited mass mailings sent out by House of Representative members for the last nine months of 2011 and McKinley spent $263,000 for the period – good enough for 4th place among all representatives. (The McKinley camp would probably point out that we are not now in the middle of an election. I would answer that politicians, especially representatives who must run every two years, are always in the middle of an election.)
Earlier today I did a bit more research on the franking privilege - what executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania Barry Kaufmann claims is a "part of the Incumbency Protection Program" - and found a bi-partisan sponsored house bill that was introduced earlier this year that would end the privilege. Not surprising, I could find no action on it (and no response from Rep. McKinley).
Finally, I did find a more general response from Representative McKinley that appeared on his Facebook page in 2013:
- Myth: Members of Congress have unlimited mailing privileges.
Fact: Not true. The cost of all Congressional mailings are paid for and included in each Member’s office budget. “Franked” mail, as it’s referred to, is mail delivered by the U.S. Postal Service for members of Congress, the Vice President and President of the United States, and former Presidents.
McKinley dodges the issue. While he is correct that not all of his mail is free, his more-expensive, glossy Legislative Updates are not part of his office budget. (Franked mail, like his "Legislative Update" has his signature in the upper-right-hand corner.)
You would think that a strong fiscal conservative like Rep.McKinley would be in favor of ending a mail program that costs over $22 million a year especially when there are cheaper ways to reach a constituency. Yeah, right -- if you believe that I have a bridge in Benwood that I could sell you.