PARKERSBURG - A candidate for the House of Representatives continues to make political hay of her opponent's expenditures on franked mail.
Democrat Sue Thorn Tuesday said Rep. David McKinley, a Republican from Wheeling, is one of the biggest spenders on franked mail despite calling it an abuse of tax dollars in 2010. McKinley was ranked fourth among representatives in spending on franked mail, spending more than $300,000 by March 31, according to a congressional accounting.
"Spending taxpayer money on direct-mail pieces during election years is wrong," Thorn said. "My opponent campaigned against this abuse in 2010 but seems to have abandoned those convictions to get re-elected."
Mike Hamilton, a spokesman for the McKinley campaign, said constituents wanted better communications with the opportunity to comment. The mailings were a part of that effort, which included town hall-style meetings and call-in events, he said.
However, McKinley because of how the office operations were managed and budgeted, returned more than $70,000, Hamilton said.
"When the congressman took office he heard from constituents that they wanted more communication and wanted the chance to provide input. That's why the congressman made communicating with residents of the 1st District a priority over office furniture, travel and other expenses," Hamilton said. "Last year, the office returned more than $70,000 to the treasury. We will continue to be good stewards of the taxpayers' money while ensuring the office communicates with and solicits feedback from the people we represent."
Thorn is a community organizer from Wheeling. McKinley is an engineer and former chairman of the West Virginia Republican Party and state legislator.
McKinley voted against a 10 percent reduction in office supplies when the House acted on the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act for 2013, Thorn said. McKinley and fellow West Virginia Reps. Shelley Moore Capito, R-2nd, and Nick Joe Rahall, D-3rd, voted for the act.
Thorn also cited a petition signed by 200 residents in the 1st District demanding McKinley stop wasteful spending on franking and return the money he spent.
Mailings are received and approved by a bipartisan committee under standards approved by the Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards.