Surprisingly, three of the freshmen Tea Party members were among the ten biggest spenders on taxpayer-funded mailings of the 444 people who served in the House over the last nine months of 2011, according to a new report by USA Today. They were:
#4 Rep. David McKinley (R-WV), $263,083 #8 Rep.Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), $253,156 #10 Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), $237,355
Members of Congress may send non-campaign materials to constituents by placing their signature in lieu of a postage stamp — a process known as “franking.” The mailings must be approved by a bipartisan commission.
McKinley hilariously listed on his now-offline 2010 campaign website that he would “End Taxpayer-funded Campaigning.” His issues page said “David McKinley believes that it’s wrong to abuse taxpayer money by funding campaign-style ‘constituent’ mailings and phone calls during re-election years.”
Joe Walsh promised in his 2010 campaign to “go to Congress to put a huge ‘STOP’ sign up in front of this runaway train of government spending.”
On her campaign website, Hertzler calls for an “immediate end to the wasteful and inefficient pork-barrel spending” and “a freeze on discretionary spending except for our national defense, including veterans, Medicare, and Social Security.”
But Hertzler defended her mailings, telling USA Today, “After 34 years of leadership by [the district’s previous Congressman, Rep. Ike Skelton (D)], we feel like it’s important for me people to get to know me and for me to hear from them. It’s part of serving the people that you represent is to communicate with them, and that’s always been a priority of mine.”
But considering that these three are part of the group that has been most vocal in opposing government spending on unnecessary items, it says a lot that they are more than happy to use public funds to boost their standing with voters.