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December 11, 2007

Congressional Franking Privilege: Background and Current Legislation [pdf]

The congressional franking privilege, which dates from 1775, allows Members of Congress to transmit mail matter under their signature without postage. Congress, through legislative branch appropriations, reimburses the U.S. Postal Service for the franked mail it handles. Use of the frank is regulated by federal law, House and Senate rules, and committee regulations. Reform efforts during the past 20 years have reduced overall franking expenditures by almost 70%, to $34.3 million in FY2006 from $113.4 million in FY1988 (current dollars)…

Yesterday we received a franked mail piece from Rep. Vicky Hartzler (r) which looks quite similar to the hundreds of campaign mail pieces we’ve received from various candidates over the years.

The “A” side of Representative Vicky Hartzler’s (r) franked mail piece.

Your tax dollars at work.

The reverse side of the mailing:

VickyHartzlerFrank1B

The “B” side of Representative Vicky Hartzler’s (r) franked mail piece.

Detail from the “B” side of the franked mail piece.

The piece reads as if they couldn’t make up their minds to just direct it to veterans or spam the district. Obviously, they made the choice to spam the district.

From the Office of the Clerk:

Franked Materials

For mass mailings to their Congressional district, Members may use their signature, or frank, instead of a postage stamp. The term mass mailing is defined as follows: “with respect to a session of Congress, a mailing of newsletters or other pieces of mail with substantially identical content (whether such pieces of mail are deposited singly or in bulk, or at the same time or different times), totaling more than 500 pieces of mail in that session…” -Rule XXIV of the Rules of the U.S. House of Representatives

In accordance with House Rule 24, Members must submit a sample or a description of the contents of mass mailings to the House Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards and obtain the approval of the commission before the mass mailing can be sent. Copies of materials approved by and filed with this Commission are available….

I wonder what it cost taxpayers to produce and send the campaign mailing franked piece? Just asking.