Archive for Friday, March 26, 2010

Rep. Jenkins among three freshmen spending most on constituent communication

March 26, 2010


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.

“With so many significant issues being discussed in Washington such as health care reform, jobs and the economy, we are constantly being asked what Congress is doing and what is in these bills,” said Paulsen spokesman Andrew Foxwell. “It is our job to inform citizens in a timely manner and to ask for their feedback, which is why we are aggressively striving to communicate with constituents.”

A look at Paulsen’s mailings finds little beyond routine information readily available elsewhere.

One, titled “Strengthening America for Minnesota families, one step at a time,” featured a cover photo of a young family, an offer to help with Capitol tours and a survey asking various questions, such as whether the recipient supports a “nationalized health care system.”

A Paulsen newsletter on veterans and the armed forces featured six photos of the congressman spread over six colorful pages, his name mentioned in a dozen headings or headlines about what bills he has backed and other things he has done. A postcard mailing focused on the swine flu epidemic and advised readers to wash their hands especially after coughing or sneezing.

That was typical of the mailings AP examined. They tended to feature photos that took up much of the space. Issues were frequently dispensed with in a few sentences, often in slogan-like ways familiar to listeners of campaign ads.

To guard against overt political appeals, a congressional commission regulates subsidized mass communications and bars sending them out within 90 days of an election. But their political purpose often wears only the thinnest of disguises.

Twenty lawmakers, including seven Democratic and four Republican freshmen, spent at least $306,000 each and are generally from competitive districts.

Lawmakers with less election competition — by far the majority — tend to spend far less on mass mailings, usually under $200,000 a year. Twenty-five lawmakers spent nothing.

Each House member’s office budget is set by a complicated formula and ranges from about $1.4 million to $1.7 million. About a third of members of Congress are allotted at least $1.5 million.

A lawmaker decides within guidelines how much goes for staff salaries, district offices and the like, enabling some to spend more for mailing and less for staff.

Titus’ spokesman, Andrew Stoddard, said that because her Nevada district is the most populous in the country, with nearly 1 million people, “it’s no surprise that we would need to spend more than other offices to communicate with our constituents.”

Her total is more than the combined spending of House members representing the 5.7 million people in Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming.

Jenkins’ newsletters included one that focused on fighting for limited government and had on its cover a large picture of the Jefferson Memorial and a quote from Thomas Jefferson that “Most bad government has grown out of too much government.” Inside, the congresswoman wrote: “The unprecedented expansion of government powers over the past eight months should concern every American. It concerns me.”

In explaining her spending on mass communications, she said about 10 percent of her office budget went unused last year. “Instead of operating with obscene overhead expenses, we have a streamlined office that allows us to allocate significant resources to constituent communication,” she said.


a_flock_of_jayhawks 8 years, 1 month ago

Funny, she said the opposite on her telephone town hall this past week when she was asked the question regarding franking privileges by a Topeka man on the call.

Bob_Keeshan 8 years, 1 month ago

a_flock_of_jayhawks (anonymous) says…

Funny, she said the opposite on her telephone town hall this past week when she was asked the question regarding franking privileges by a Topeka man on the call.

This is the type of information you would think a local reporter would have interest in.

She knows she is in trouble on this issue, and it sounds like her defense is the same one she uses in other cases - to flat out lie about it.

purplesage 8 years, 1 month ago

Better than the Boyda blather we used to have to contend - but I don't think it is right to use governmet funds for a psudo campaing mailing. And, regardless of which governmental official sends it, there is always an opportunity to send some money to help stop this or promote that. Makes one cynical if one isn't careful.

Hawkman 8 years, 1 month ago

Like the Jayhawks... She will be one and done!!

Horatio Bfor 8 years, 1 month ago

It does not matter if I agree or disagree with my representative. I Like it when they communicate with me what they believe in and what they are doing. It keeps me informed.

avoice 8 years, 1 month ago

As a fiscal conservative, it seems that Lynn Jenkins could find a way to keep her constituents informed without being the second highest spender. Maybe it's pretty easy to say "no" to other people's spending, but no so easy to reign in your own spending when you deem the cause worthwhile. And then, maybe, there are other types of spending that are also worthwhile. Think about it, Lynn.

Royals 8 years, 1 month ago

Hawkman (anonymous) says… Like the Jayhawks... She will be one and done!!

And I thought the Jayhawks were 1-1 in this years tourney.

Steve Bunch 8 years, 1 month ago

So many mailings, so little to say. She makes Boyda look like Tip O'Neill.

BigAl 8 years, 1 month ago

It isn't just mailings with her. It seems like I get a lot of unwanted phone calls from her office as well. These phone calls are not informative, they are simply political speeches. Boyda wasn't near as intrusive as Jenkins is.

"No Call" lists should include these political stump speeches....

chocolateplease 8 years, 1 month ago

Her robo-calls and self-serving "news"letters, which are slanted to self-promotion, are hardly what I'd call information; they are blatant advertising. This is just one more reason to vote her out.

overthemoon 8 years, 1 month ago

I have called Jenkin's office several times to comment on her extravagantly produced mailings of misinformation. She never goes into any details on issues nor does she even attempt to explain positions other than her own. She only asks questions with multiple choice answer options that clearly support her positions. For instance: "are you in favor of lowing fuel costs" Yes or No. Well of course, who doesn't want cheaper fuel? But what are we willing to give to get that? Conserve? Innovate? or just Drill baby Drill? She is not getting realistic feedback with questions posed in that manner.

I find it highly questionable that the republican congress is so opposed to everything, even though the just-passed Health Care Reform Bill is essentially a carbon copy of previous Republican proposals they claim it is the most horrid thing they've ever seen. Did you ever here Congresswoman Jenkins actually discuss the substance of bill instead of the party line talking points? This sort of game playing will back fire, and I sincerely hope that Barbie Jenkins will have the opportunity to 'spend more time with family' after the 2010 elections.

texburgh 8 years, 1 month ago

Her mailings - produced and mailed with our tax dollars - are NOT newsletters. There is no news in any of them. They are blatant political self-promotion designed to make her constituents think she gives a rat's tail what they think. Lynn Jenkins is a worthless representative more interested in groveling to the extremist base of the GOP than in representing working people back here in Kansas. She will vote against us every time if it will protect corporate interests and the wealthy. We are no better off today than we were under the last useless republican Jim Ryun.

As for her responsiveness, perhaps she has responded to vertigo but she has never responded to me.

I pray she's a one-termer; I fear she is not. The voters of Kansas will always vote against their own economic self-interest.

rbwaa 8 years, 1 month ago

i wrote jenkins a letter last june confronting her on this very issue regarding a 'survey' which was heavily weighted to get the exact responses she wanted ... she had the audacity in the mailing to make the assertion that "the cost of producing, preparing and printing this piece is less than a postage stamp." i guess we see now how much her political grandstanding costs us.

Mike Ford 8 years, 1 month ago

This woman looks like the Joker and apparently shes spends tax dollars like a joker. Unfortunately, smiling and bs'ing the Kansas populace while swearing alliegance to god, guns, and abortion get a politcian farther than facts and actual political postions. Kansas, as dumb as it gets west and south of Topeka.

Orwell 8 years, 1 month ago

"Representative CPA" (she even has "CPA" on the plaque outside her Washington office door) couldn't keep accounts straight when she was State Treasurer. I don't know why anyone would believe anything she has to say about the cost of anything, particularly when she demonstrates that her only real concern is re-election.

Stephen Roberts 8 years, 1 month ago

Atleast you get something from your rep. Mine in so darn silent I think he is dead. Is Dennis Moore alive???? He probally doesn"t want to send me anything because Nancy will just tell him how to vote anyway.

thebigspoon 8 years, 1 month ago

"I told you so" is such an empty phrase, but there were thousands of us who did just that prior to the election. NOW all of Lynn's constituents can see for themselves that this poor excuse for a treasurer is an even poorer excuse for a representative. She said nothing of substance that was the truth in her campaigning, she says nothing of substance as a representative that is the truth, and goes out of her way to lie or subvene questions of a direct nature. She has no background for her position, no moral or ethical string to follow that would lead to her being a "representative" of the state, and is on track to become one of the most embarassing people we have ever sent to Washington.

Another thing I wonder: who gets these "valuable" missives she has spent $422,000 on? I am in "her" district and have received exactly NO letters, surveys, or phone calls, or even campaign slogans camouflaged as "information". I have seen and read some of the trash she sends, but it apparently goes to those who actually voted for her. It seems a terrible waste of taxpayer money (which she promised to safeguard!) to communicate only with those who agree with you when you are supposed to be representing all sides of all questions concerning the governing of the nation.

Personally, I say to you, Lynn: You are a farce, you do not exhibit the ability to tell the truth, you have NEVER represented the people who hired you, and you are in it for LYNN JENKINS. As long as you are where you are, there will be no voice for the district which gave you political life. Give us a break and try, just once, to be a voice of reason. Might be a really great experience, and it will surprise thousands of your employers. But I doubt it will happen in any future that includes you in "public service". Thanks for nothing, so far.

rbwaa 8 years, 1 month ago

It would be interesting to see how much the other representatives in Kansas spent in comparison to Jenkins. How about it LJW?

Richard Heckler 8 years, 1 month ago

Jenkins is a walking talking tax increase...

thebigspoon 8 years, 1 month ago

Oh, yeah, just in case you really read and respond to us in your district, you can e-mail me through the LJW, and I'll be happy to have a conversation with you. I welcome the opportunity, though I sincerely doubt you will have the courage of your convictions to follow through with anyone who voted against you.

rbwaa 8 years, 1 month ago

"anyone who voted against you" and confronts you on your hypocrisy ....

seriouscat 8 years, 1 month ago

She is an embarrassment. The last mailing the she sent out said something along the lines of "I want to show you how government overspending is affective of our economy". If she's letting such a sad excuse for 'communication' make it out of her office in writing, I shudder to think of the stuff she's letting come out of her mouth while representing Kansans in Washington.


CLARKKENT 8 years, 1 month ago


rbwaa 8 years, 1 month ago

thebigspoon (anonymous) says…

"Another thing I wonder: who gets these "valuable" missives she has spent $422,000 on? I am in "her" district and have received exactly NO letters, surveys, or phone calls, or even campaign slogans camouflaged as "information". I have seen and read some of the trash she sends, but it apparently goes to those who actually voted for her. It seems a terrible waste of taxpayer money (which she promised to safeguard!) to communicate only with those who agree with you when you are supposed to be representing all sides of all questions concerning the governing of the nation." ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ unfortunately, she doesn't just send to those who voted for her. I voted against her and even confronted her on her political grandstanding and expensive mailings and I still get her crap and robocalls. I think it may have something to do with my last name which is synonymous with right wing political leanings...ugh

Rex Russell 8 years, 1 month ago

I really can't say I was thrilled with Nancy Boyda. She wasn't exacting a gleaming political star. However, (and that is a huge however) in comparison, I am pining away for those old days. Ms. Jenkins might be a fine person personaly. I don't know her. But as a Rep., she leaves much to be desired. I once wrote Ms. Boyda a few years ago and expressed a political opinion directly to her. She actually emailed me back with an explanation of her politcal stand on the subject and where she agreed and disagreed with me on the subject. The only thing I get from Ms. Jenkins is highly slanted, grossly partisan, partyline speak in her numerous mailings and robocalls. I am told that registerered Independants get her full blast of correspondence. My assessment of Ms. Jenkins is that she is a representitive of her political party and ideology. And not so much the people back here in Kansas. Whether or not she is a one-and-done is a mute point if no respectable, viable candidate runs against her.

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