From Cecil Times
Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-1st) has spent nearly $83,000 in taxpayer money to send out newsletter mailings to constituents this year, at per household costs of 24-cents, according to a Cecil Times search of voluminous Clerk of the House documents. It is a perfectly legal, and even routine, expenditure by sitting House members but it is one of the ‘perks’ of office that political challengers to incumbents do not have.
Federal documents show that Kratovil distributed 208,322 mailers in the third quarter of the year, for a total cost of $31,256 or 9-cents per household. For the first quarter of the year, he sent out 116,151 mailers, at a total cost of $51,666, or about 15-cents per household. Final figures for the year won’t be available until early 2010. (These figures do not include the value of franked mail, which is accounted for separately in House records. The franking privilege allows members of Congress to send postage-free letters to constituents.)
Kratovil’s mailings let him get his name before individual constituents (otherwise known as voters) to advise them of what he is doing in Washington, address issues of concern to his district, etc. The content of such mailings is strictly limited under House rules, which prohibit blatant electioneering in such taxpayer-supported mailings.
In the grand scheme of federal campaign finance, a quarter is less than peanuts. But such taxpayer-paid mailings do give an incumbent an edge over challengers to keep his or her name before the voters.