The Power of Incumbency

Elected officials in Washington, D.C. get to send a lot of mail. No stamps are needed, just the Senator or Representative’s computer generated signature where the stamp goes. This is called “Franked Mail.” Some of the mail is sent for constituent assistance, or to answer a constituent’s concerns about an issue. Other mail is sent to update their constituency about something happening in Congress. Sometimes they send letters. Others times postcards or newsletters.

No matter what they send via “official mail” you can bet it’s to get their name out there and to tell us, “Look what I did and you should keep me there!”

More and more updates are sent via e-mail, which makes it cheaper and that is a good idea.

Any mail that is sent from an elected official’s office must have “Official Business” listed on it and “Prepared, Published and Mailed at Taxpayer Expense” listed on the mail. Basically, these statements mean we are paying for their mail.

Yesterday I received a nice postcard from Max Baucus, telling me about the Economic Stimulus Package. Here’s what was on the back of the postcard:

The information Max sent was already out there from other sources. Max told me that, “I was proud to help author the economic stimulus package recently passed by Congress and signed by the President.”

Of course, Max’s photo was on the postcard and his name was in a large font so we can easily see it.

This is all legal, but I believe they have a cut-off date before the election when they have to stop doing it at taxpayer’s expense – just to make it fair.

Since it’s Max’s re-election time, one must think he’s using taxpayer money to do just a wee bit of campaigning. We sure didn’t see too many of these postcards and letters during the first five years of his term.

It’s the power of incumbency.


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