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July 30th, 2008 12:00 am WW Editorial Staff | Rogue of the Week

David Wu

Talk about junk mail.

WW Photo Illustration

For wasting taxpayer dollars by sending his constituents junk mail about not wasting taxpayers’ dollars, U.S. Rep David Wu (D-Ore.)—who’s up for re-election in November—gives the Rogue Desk a $53,500 headache.

This month, the five-term Democrat’s constituents in the First Congressional District (from downtown Portland to the coast) got a flier in the mail telling them what we already know: The Iraq war is costing billions.

“It’s time to invest here at home,” Wu’s color, three-panel flier continues.

Fine sentiment. What’s Roguish is the use of $53,500 in taxpayer money to send thinly veiled campaign literature known as “franked mail” when A) the theme is saving money and B) taxpayer dollars aren’t meant to support a candidate’s re-election.

To be fair, Wu violated no rules. Printed and mailed with money from lawmakers’ office budgets, the flier was approved by a bipartisan committee that monitors Congress’ “franking” privileges. Among other things, “frankable” fliers must be mailed at least 90 days before an election, they can’t explicitly advocate for a candidate, and they can’t be used for partisan purposes.

“He thinks it’s a priority to communicate with his constituents,” adds Wu spokeswoman Julia Krahe.

That doesn’t mean we can’t ask about Wu’s other priorities—one of which is getting re-elected in less than 100 days.

On the back of his flier, Wu writes: “For the tax dollars spent just by residents of our congressional district [on the Iraq war] we could afford…16,973 more elementary school teachers for one year.”

True. And for $53,500, 150 elementary school children in Portland also could eat lunch for free for a year. Instead, Wu fed at the taxpayers’ trough to fatten his campaign.

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