When My Representative Uses Public Dollars to Send Me Campaign Literature

I received a letter a few days ago from Representative Bruce Poliquin.  The envelope was emblazoned “Public Document – Official Business.”  I was surprised to see this in my mail box, because I had not remembered sending Mr. Poliquin an inquiry or a comment on his actions in the U.S. House of Representatives.

I found inside a letter with an ad hominem attack on the Internal Revenue Service and information to update me “…on the work I am doing to hold the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) more accountable…”  I could be wrong, but my sense is that any reasonable citizen, whatever they may feel about the IRS, would read this letter as campaign literature.

The data on Congressional elections are clear.  Incumbency creates a significant advantage at election time.  Re-election of the incumbent is the norm.  Incumbents have high name recognition and many ably use their staffs to provide service for constituents experiencing problems with the Federal government.  I get that.

My question is, why are Members of Congress allowed to use tax payers’ dollars to produce, print, and mail campaign literature to me in the guise of a public document, official business?

There is much business I would like to see the U.S. Congress complete.  The last I checked, the majority of agency appropriations bills for the upcoming fiscal year are nowhere near completion.  The leadership of the House of Representatives refuses to even vote on keeping firearms out of the hands of those on the so-called “no fly list.”  The Senate leadership refuses to hold hearings on a nominee to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court, extending gridlock from Congress to the high court.

Yet Congress continues to remain at work only three days most weeks and now they enjoy a long summer recess.  Reportedly this allows members more time to raise funds for their next election.  Perhaps they have not learned the lesson of  Representative Poliquin – get taxpayers to pay for sending me what looks like campaign literature.

Mark W. Anderson

About Mark W. Anderson

I am proud to be a Mainer, born in Caribou and schooled at Brewer High School, Bowdoin College, and the University of Maine. I am grateful for a 35 year career at UMaine, the last decade in the School of Economics.