PARKERSBURG - A West Virginia representative is the fourth highest spender for taxpayer-financed franked mail in a nine-month period last year, USA Today reported.
Rep. David McKinley, R-1st, from April to December spent $263,083 on the mailings, the newspaper reported citing a review of records kept by the House of Representative's chief administrative officer.
The newspaper reported members of the House sent 77 million pieces of franked mail representing $27.9 million and that eight of the top 10 were freshmen Republicans. Spending the most were Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nevada, at $319,251, Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Ill., at $293,021, Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., at $282,385, McKinley, and Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., at $261,799. Connolly is not a freshman lawmaker.
McKinley is running for re-election against Democrat Sue Thorn, a community organizer from Wheeling. She said it was wrong to spend that money to ensure re-election.
"Despite big campaign promises to cut wasteful government spending, Rep. McKinley spent more money on taxpayer-funded mass mailings than almost every other member of the U.S. House of Representatives," Thorn said. "In 2010, he even referred to these unsolicited, campaign-style mailings as an 'abuse' of taxpayer money. Unfortunately, he seems to have deserted his core convictions."
Jim Forbes, McKinley's communications director, said it is important for McKinley to communicate with constituents and the mailings "were a vital part of that process."
USA Today reported eight Republican freshmen in the U.S. House of Representatives were among the top 10 lawmakers who spent the most on mailings in their districts.
" Not only did residents in the 1st District receive information in that way, Rep. McKinley also conducted numerous town hall meetings and tele-hall meetings," Forbes said. "In the short amount of time he has been in office, Rep. McKinley has conducted town hall meetings in all 20 counties, many for the second time."
The remaining five in the top 10, according to the newspaper, were: Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., at $258,690; freshman Rep. Todd Young, R-Ind., at $256,956; freshman Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., at $253,156; freshman Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kan., at $244,488; and freshman Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., at $237,355.
Records prior to April 2011 were unavailable. According to the House Committee on House Administration, the first quarter report of mass mailings and communications for 2012 was due April 16.