AP Exclusive: California taxpayers fund legislative mailings


By SOPHIA BOLLAG
Related Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – California Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez despatched greater than 200,000 items of mail to constituents final winter. One letter invited ladies to self-protection courses, one other highlighted a fowl-watching occasion, and a 3rd promoted a tree adoption day.

The mailings, all despatched in a two-week interval, value $sixty two,000, and taxpayers foot the invoice, in line with knowledge obtained by The Related Press by way of a public data request.

Final yr, California Meeting members spent $three.2 million sending mail to their constituents, benefiting from a legislative perk that permits them to make use of tax dollars to cowl the prices. Senators spent $230,000.

The correspondence is meant to be “non-marketing campaign,” however Meeting spending knowledge present members spent extra throughout current election years, and people with the very best tabs often are in probably the most aggressive races. In Gomez’s case, the letters went out as he was ramping up his marketing campaign for an open U.S. Home seat that attracted 23 candidates.

Paul Seamus Ryan, vice chairman of coverage and litigation at Widespread Trigger, stated periodic mailings touting a lawmaker’s efforts or highlighting an area occasion profit incumbents.

“When the spending is being completed principally or disproportionately by legislators who’re operating for workplace, it definitely appears to be an abuse of taxpayer dollars,” stated Ryan, whose Washington, D.C., group advocates authorities transparency. “You do not have to say ‘Vote for me’ as a way to successfully encourage somebody to vote for you.”

All eighty Meeting seats have been on the poll in 2016, whereas solely 20 of forty Senate seats have been.

Such mail is prohibited inside 60 days of an election, which helps clarify why Gomez’s flurry – he despatched extra taxpayer-funded mail in two weeks than your complete earlier yr – ended two months earlier than the first election for the Los Angeles congressional seat Xavier Becerra vacated when he was appointed state lawyer basic.

As soon as Gomez was inside two months of the election, his congressional marketing campaign logged its first mailing expense, in response to Federal Election Fee data.

Gomez, a Democrat, gained that election and the June runoff to grow to be California’s latest congressman.

Voters handed a regulation in 1988 prohibiting using public cash for mass mailings to…



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