The Congressional Franking privilege, which allows members of Congress to send correspondence to constituents without cost, dates back to the seventeenth century in the British House of Commons. Over four centuries, it’s been subject to quite a bit of abuse by politicians to use official dollars for electoral pandering come campaign time. That doesn’t mean that Gordon Smith won’t take that abuse to new levels in order to save his Republican hide in blue Oregon.
The Boundary obtained a copy of Smith’s latest
direct-mail piece franked newsletter form a source residing in the Portland metropolitan area. Based on Smith’s sweater-wearing peacenik persona that’s featured in the piece, it would seem the flyer probably went only to Portland-area voters. (More franking crankiness after the jump.)
The message of the front page of the mailer’s is clear: Senator Smith works across the aisle, and only across the aisle it would seem, in the spirit of the liberal values of Oregonians. He namechecks Senator Wyden’s health care plan without really endorsing it–he is not among the 8 cosponsors of the bill. And it’s all wholesale politics! The bullet points, the Democrats, the italic headlines with vague achievements: Gordon Smith is truly campaigning with the taxpayer dime, and in an overtly conspicuous fashion.
The back is all about education:
Where are the bill numbers, the congressional colleagues and the actual proof that Smith has done any due diligence towards the claims listed on this mailer? Official correspondence should carry the weight of the work being done by the member who sends it. The bullet points and ethereal nature of this mailer (again, paid for by you, me and Aunt Susie from Delaware) surely reflect a lightweight senator–one that tries to cover his right-wing tracks of war support and social conservatism by promoting his few associations with Democrats and espousing empty overtures towards liberal values.
And he has the gall to stick us with the bill for his explicit and shameless campaigning to the left. What’s more–though this is definitely a piece of campaign direct mail, it’s a shoddy one at that. Look at the crappy mismatched color schemes, the lack of bold, intriguing fonts and the grainy, poorly-composed photography–his consultants didn’t put too much work into this.
It may barely be legal, but it sure as hell ain’t ethical, and it’s not even a well-designed piece. Call up Gordon Smith’s office and tell his staff that if the Senator has enough contempt for the people of Oregon to campaign with taxpayer money, the least he could do is give us something pretty to look at! (Numbers at the bottom…).
Washington, DC Office
404 Russell Building
Washington, DC 20510
Portland, OR Office
One World Trade Center
121 SW Salmon Street, Suite 1250
Portland, OR 97204