INSIDE WASHINGTON: Mail perk is re-election tool |

INSIDE WASHINGTON: Mail perk is re-election tool

WASHINGTON (AP) – Freshman members of Congress are using a perk to blanket districts with mass mailings and other messages to promote themselves back home, particularly those in this year’s tightest election contests, an Associated Press review shows.

Last year, the 54 House members who were first elected to Congress in November 2008 spent more than $11 million in taxpayer money communicating with their constituents, using it for everything from live teleconferences to postage and printing for slick, colorful newsletters.

Nineteen of the freshmen spent at least $250,000 each, according to the AP review. And the more hard-fought their electoral victories were in 2008, the more likely the lawmakers were to be among the big spenders in the House.

The leading spenders were three first-term lawmakers: Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., who spent $470,059.25; Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., $422,055.17; and Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Minn., $413,996.12. They were all elected in tight races.

Those who are busiest communicating with public financing say it’s what their constituents want.