Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Reichert caught abusing taxpayer mailings (again)

Dave Reichert has been campaigning using taxpayer funds again. Big surprise:
Voters in the 8th Congressional District are getting thousands of pieces of official mail in the weeks leading up to the election from Dave Reichert's Congressional office. The mail is "franked," meaning Reichert pays no postage for sending the official mail to constituents.

How can he do that when there is a ban on franked mass mailings within 90 days of an election? It's not mass mail. Each of 130 different letters that have gone out since June go to no more than 499 people. And House rules in the franking manual define "mass mailing" as 500 or more pieces of mail.

In the parlance of Capitol Hill, these are pieces of "499 mail." House members can send out as much official mail as they like with no pre-election cut off as long as each letter goes to no more than 499 people.
Postman also wrote about this in his column today.
Reichert's chief of staff, Mike Shields, said 130 different letters have been mailed since June, when the pre-primary mass-mailing ban went into effect. Because the primary and general elections are so close together in Washington, the blackout period carries through to the general election.

Shields said not all the mailings went to 499 people. Sometimes the mail goes to a random selection of 499 constituents; other times it goes to people identified as interested in a specific issue.
Many readers will recall that Republicans made hay out of a franking "scandal" in 1994, so it appears the shoe is firmly on the other foot.

Obviously many pieces of "official" mail that regular folks get from Congress critters and state legislators is thinly disguised campaign propaganda. So it would be easy to go find examples of mailings from Democrats that are glossy and simple-minded. You can bet the Reichert people will be doing just that.

But the key point with Reichert's franked mail is how fiendishly systematic it all was. You don't have to be a brain surgeon to figure out why there are long, boring House rules about the frank-it's because over the years there has been so much abuse.

So rather than simply compete with Burner on an even playing field, Reichert has chosen, in essence, to cheat. And he's been doing it for a long time.

The bald hypocrisy of Reichert, who runs on his law enforcement credentials, resorting to gaming the rules is pretty apparent. Reichert wants to portray himself as a straight-shooting sheriff, but in reality he's just another Republican lackey who does what he's told.

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