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Denham, of all people, should not be sending taxpayer funded mailers
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I can't believe I am about to give a conservative a public lashing, but, dang it, Jeff Denham should know better.

Denham, the congressman who represents the 19th Congressional District (and now running for the 10th CD), has a great voting record as a conservative. But my heart sank when I saw a recent mailer in my mailbox funded by U.S. taxpayers. I was stunned at how brazenly it resembled and read like a campaign piece, yet it bears his franking signature - it allows free postage - and bore the words, "This mailing was prepared, published and mailed at taxpayer expense." The lettering is in about 7-point typeface, the smallest allowable by law.

That's a shame.

Denham, of all people, should not participate in these self-serving pieces. This was nothing but a campaign flyer that had two small sections giving it the appearance of a legitimate piece. One small section highlights an Aug. 22 jobs fair and the other a small survey that asked the constituent to rate importance of issues (as if his polling allows him to only focus on the most important issues and heck with those in trailing ratings of importance.)

"Congressman Jeff Denham - Control Jobs, Control Spending" is the headline. It reads like a pure campaign mailer with phrases like "As a small business owner, Congressman Denham knows that we can only spend what we take in. That's why he is fighting to control government spending and eliminate waste to hold Washington accountable...."

Funny, though, that Denham didn't resist the urge to reduce spending as far as his mailer is concerned. Denham spent $296,570 on mailers, part of the 77 million congressional pieces sent in just nine months last year at a cost of $28 million to taxpayers.

The mailers are legal if not sent out within 90 days of their own primary and general elections. They are also not supposed to be used as campaign material. Each piece supposedly must be approved by the House Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards, which is known for its leniency. I am sure they do a lot of winking at each other as they give the thumbs-up.

If you ask me, these mailers are a colossal waste of taxpayer money and shouldn't be legal.

Apparently even Republicans who got into office on a campaign of trimming government spending participate in this crime against taxpayers. The 87 GOP members of the freshman class sent more than 25.6 million pieces of unsolicited mail in 2011 at a cost of nearly $9.8 million, according to records compiled by the chief administrative officer of the House.

At least one congressman - Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona - has been beating his head against the wall trying to get Congress to outlaw the mailers. He said he opposes "the glossy brochures because they are frankly campaigning on the taxpayers' dime, in my view. Incumbents have enough advantages with our ability to get free news coverage."

No kidding.

Flake has tried unsuccessfully to introduce several bills in recent years to restrict congressional spending on taxpayer-funded official mail. But since both major party representatives use the mailers, even Flake knows that "there's no way a bill like this would move through the system. No way."

Those in Congress who defend the mailers say the mailers are an important way to keep in touch with constituents and let citizens know what their representatives are doing.


Steve Ellis, vice president of the non-partisan Taxpayers for Common Sense, said it best, noting "this mail is really about protecting incumbency rather than informing constituents about what's going on in Washington. These mailers have always been about members of Congress bragging about themselves and getting re-elected."

Rep. Denham, a lot of people have faith in you on trimming the size of government, But put your money where your mouth is and end, at least in your district, this wasteful practice which uses taxpayer money - money forfeited by families who could have used it to better feed or clothe their kids - to promote your own accomplishments to them. That's what your campaign war chest is designed to do.

How do you feel? Let Jeff know at