Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Is Rehberg Campaigning on Taxpayer Money?

It is being reported that Rehberg used his tax supported franking privileges to mail blatant campaign literature to Montana voters.

According to an article in New West, Rehberg mass mailed literature bragging about what an awesome job he has been doing in Washington.

"It is legitimate for a member to keep citizens informed of what's
happening in Congress and their own activities. It conveys an advantage
to incumbents that they are able to mail such communications on the
taxpayers' dime. That's a fact of life. But what Congressman Dennis
Rehberg has done is fraudulent," Jim Farrell, executive director of
Montana's Democratic Party, said in an interview.

If this is a legitimate use of franking privileges, why is it the first he has sent this year? Why does it look so much like campaign literature? See for yourself (PDF). Did he break any laws?

"The rules are so poorly constructed he is able to stay within the
letter of the law but not its spirit," Farrell said. "The laws say you
should not campaign on the taxpayers' dime and that's precisely what he
has done."

The guidelines for franked mailings are contained in a 72-page document
that establishes detailed rules for their tone, appearance and content.
For example, verbal references to the House member must be restricted to
an average of eight per page, not including the masthead and return
address. There can be no more than two photos of the member per page.
Biographical material must be kept to a minimum.

In the mailers in question, Rehberg is the subject of three photographs
and of all but two sentences in the "families first" mailer, which claim
he is "making health care more affordable" and "improving education." It
ticks off a string of non-controversial legislative accomplishments,
such as votes to increase funding for Head Start, Pell grants, reading
programs, heart disease prevention and breast cancer. His opposition to
stem-cell research, minimum wage increases and health-insurance reform
are not mentioned.

It seems pretty clear that he broke both the spirit and the letter of the law to me. What about truth? Is there anything to the claims he makes? Let's look at the bullets:

1. Improving Education
2. Making Health Care More Affordable
3. Protecting Our Children

That doesn't feel like the Denny Rehberg I know. What do the experts say?

1. Improving Education
National Education Association 25%
National Association for College Admission Counseling 25%
National Parent Teacher Association 8%
National School Boards Association 40%
School Nutrition Association 33%

2. Making Health Care More Affordable
American Public Health Association 12%
American College of Emergency Physicians 50%
National Breast Cancer Coalition 0%

3. Protecting Our Children
Children's Defense Fund 0%
School Nutrition Association 33%

Doesn't look like anyone else shares his opinions of himself. To me this seems pretty cut and dry. Rehberg is misuing your money to run his campaign.


Anonymous said...

Great post!

Here's another fact that might interest you:

Rehberg voted for for H.R. 5122, which contains a measure for federalization of the National Guard that all of the governors are opposing (http://www.congress.org/congressorg/issues/votes/?votenum=145&chamber=H&congress=1092)



Shane C. Mason said...

That's good stuff. Burns has been taking big hits, but the Lindeen race is very important and Rehberg has been skating through. He needs to be held accountable for what he has been doing

There has been a lot of talk from the right that dems have given up on this race, but that is simply not true. This race is just getting started.

Craig said...

Interest groups (e.g. NEA) are experts?

I'll have to remember that.

Shane C. Mason said...

Always happy to teach you something Craig!


Joe said...

Just like messing with blogs

Anonymous said...

I like joe's who like messing with blogs! Sweet, we have something in common!