August 04, 2006

Freehholder Franking???...Get Real

Recently, I referred to the Union County Alliance newspaper, “Union County Directions”, as a taxpayer funded political campaign piece to promote Union County’s Democrat public officials who are up for reelection. Of course this always draws criticism from the GOP's opponents who staunchly defend the county’s use of public money with the justification that the publication is merely intended to “inform” county residents of what is going on in the county and alerting residents of the various useful services that the county provides.

Timing being everything there are those who point to congressional mailings from legislators, one of which arrived a couple of weeks ago, as being the exact same thing and why is it that I don’t denounce the Republicans as being guilty of the same abuse of tax payer dollars.

Well, that is because there is a difference, namely "franking”.

According to the Committee on House Administration website,

In 1775: “The American Continental Congress authorized franking privileges to its members as a means of informing their constituents. The first U.S. Congress enacted a franking law in 1789. The franking privilege has remained a necessary and valuable tool of our representative government for more than 200 years.”

By investigating further an interested voter can learn that congressmen and senators are given an annual budget to use at their discretion for specific expenses one of which is called “constituent mailings”.

All mass mailings are to be approved by the Franking Commission and bear the notation:“This mailing was prepared, published and mailed at taxpayer expense” and must hit mailboxes at least 90 days prior to an election, no exceptions.

Perhaps GOP detractors can point us in the direction of where to learn, just what are the “special franking privileges” that apply to the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders?

Seems to me that NJ ELEC laws would apply to them and the entire cadre of Democrat candidates up for reelection or are they exempt?

Do NJ regulations apply only to Republicans?

Let’s get real here.

The Freeholder board sends taxpayer money to the Alliance for the publication of the UC Directions, the publication comes out twice a year, mailed to UC residents arriving just days before both the primary and general elections, it features Democrat incumbents up for reelection, both pictures and articles. Representatives of The Alliance claim that this is just a "coincidence".

NJ ELEC law says that these types of informational pieces, with incumbents, paid for with tax dollars must reach the general public in the district at least 90 days prior to an election. (Exceptions to the rule are response letters to specific individuals and notices of emergency situations which residents must be informed about, further, "Political" mailings are considered to be any communication which talks about the accomplishments of the individuals featured, certainly appears as though the UC Directions is just chock full of that sort of thing,therefore the publication could be considered "Political" and should not be paid for with tax dollars.)

Spelling it out

The Saturday or Monday before Election Day, which is always on a Tuesday is merely two days not three months prior to an election.

Obviously there is either someone who can’t count or the US Postal Service is in even worse shape and slower than we all originally thought.