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.