A challenge to GOP legislators on franking privilege

Thor's Assistant Rostra Administrator (Thor's Assistant) 9 Comments


SD Rostra Editorial

Read the UT San Diego editorial on state legislators’ abuse of the franking privilege…

Abuse of franked mail: Enough is enough

Tell you what.  The first Republican legislator from San Diego — or from any part of the state for that matter — that let’s Rostra know he or she will author or co-author a substantive reform measure to curb this abusive mailing practice, we’ll give you all the space you need for a column and assist in getting your message out.

If needed, note the conditions for support you would demand be included in such legislation, such as legal assurances both parties would have to play by the same rules.

Alternatively, if you believe that a) since the Democrats get to do it, you should too (the two wrongs make it right argument), and/or b) because Republicans are in the minority in California, the only way to compete politically with the majority party is to be able to mail aggressively with public funds so as to assist in heightening the name and positives of GOP incumbents at election time (the end justifies the means argument) — well, let us know that as well.

You may email us at info@sdrostra.com.



Comments 9

  1. Not saying any Democrat would take you up on the offer, but if one would be willing, why wouldn’t you grant them the same courtesy?

    The idea is to end this nefarious practice regardless of who gets the credit for ending it. Isn’t it?

  2. Post

    Actually, we’re not assuming a Democrat wouldn’t take us up on the offer. Ben Katz asked a similar question on Twitter. We’ll publish a Dem’s too. This is very purposeful: We are after all “considered” a GOP blog by many. GOP electeds often make the arguments noted at the end of the post. We’re challenging those who sometimes make the “we need to compete with the Dems” franking argument. Do any have the guts to move past it?

  3. The irony is that, with Gerrymandering and the other advantages of incumbency, our elected politicians don’t really “need” this subsidy. Once elected, they are seldom unseated.

    This trend has MUCH more to do with using staff to win over constituents (and perhaps campaign), reluctance of credible competitors to take on a sitting legislator, the “free” ads politicians can run by putting out press releases and staging “town halls” and — most important — direct and indirect campaign funding for incumbents from special interest groups.

    Perhaps Jim Sills can provide the numbers, but the ousting of a sitting CA legislator who isn’t facing criminal indictments has to be astonishingly rare.
    It seems to me that often the franking subsidies have more to do with helping to win a DIFFERENT office — especially considering term limits.

    BOTTOM LINE: Having the courage to unilaterally turn down franking subsidies that help assure reelection is really not so courageous after all — the partisan incumbents win anyway.

  4. Post

    Richard, agreed. The UT editorial refers to a substantial portion of the franking use measured having been by those running for another office.

  5. Richard – The last state senator to lose re-election was Dick Rainey in 2000 up in Contra Costa county. The last assemblyman to lose re-election was Bob Prenter from Bakersfield in 1998, who was elected in 1996 under “unique” circumstances and Jim Morrisey from a Santa Ana based district, also in ’98, and he barely won re-election in 1996, only winning by 93 votes.

    Not counting primary losses, altogether, since 1992, 10 assembly members and 4 state senators have lost re-election, and that includes people who lost where redistricting played a major role.

  6. Many thanks, Marshall! To give that some perspective, consider that every two years we hold 120 elections for CA state legislators — 600 per decade.

    Perhaps an even MORE interesting statistic is the legislative elections where (EXCEPT for redistricting) a Republican was replaced by a Democrat, or vice versa. To say “seldom” is to not give the rare incidence sufficient weight.

    Regardless, the case against franking subsidies for politicians is strong.

  7. Thorette, thanks for pointing out that I was agreeing with the editorial regarding franking subsidies for incumbents seeking election in different offices. I did a poor job, not including that editorial conclusion.

  8. Richard,

    Actually we hold 100 elections every two years, not 120 since State Senators have 4-year terms. As for the franking privilege needing to be eliminated, it is good to know that we agree on something.

  9. I recall some years back my district congressman had commented during a debate that he had a continual surplus of franking monies every year.

    I feel the purpose of these monies is to keep the constituent informed. It is a shame that the mail outs are so often as just to be the continuation of the never ending campaign. Hard copy information is so superior to shagging some web site.
    Each month I get a National American Legion, plus my local post. Each month I am totally updated, on all concerns to my veteran issues. Why can’t our House do the same? Free Postal privileges can really be beneficial.

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