McClintock a big spender on Congressional mail

Our Congressman Tom McClintock likes to rail against government spending, but he is among the biggest spenders around when it comes to Congressional mass mailings to promote himself back home, according to an Associated Press survey.

All told, the 54 House members, including McClintock, 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,” the AP said.

McClintock spent $380,691 in Congressional mailings last year, ranking him six in Congress, according to the AP survey. This includes postage, printing and reproduction for mass mailings as well as robo-calls and telephone calls with constituents.

Our household can attest to regular robo-calls at the dinner hour.

“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,” the AP reported.

In our district, McClintock won election in a tight race against Democrat Charlie Brown, and actually lost to Brown in our county.

The mailers sent by the Congressmen “tended to feature photos that took up much of the space. Issues were frequently dispensed within a few sentences, often in slogan-like ways familiar to listeners of campaign ads,” the AP said.

The local media subscribes to the AP news wire, but I have not seen this reported by them.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

13 thoughts on “McClintock a big spender on Congressional mail”

  1. “The local media subscribes to the AP news wire, but I have not seen this reported by them.”

    “Just do nothing till you hear from me, and you never will…”

    Mose Allison and many other artists

  2. I wrote a letter to the editor on this subject that was published in the Union way back when. Many of the comments were in support of McClintock’s slick brochure and questioned my questioning the expense of the fancy color mailers. I paraphrase, but I was basically told to get a life. Of course those comments came form McClintock supporters.

    I still see a double standard. I know that color printing comes at quite a cost as does the heavy paper McClintock and Doolittle before him used. I still contend that it is an unnecessary expense, and that especially during election time these are really campaign pieces at taxpayer expense.

    Some conservatives may not believe it, but liberals are just as concerned over government spending, if not more concerned. It is just that liberals want to see the money that is spent go in different directions. It is a myth that certainly benefits and is promoted by conservatives that the only thing that liberals want to do is spend like drunken sailors (my apologies in advance to drunken sailors). Both parties have trouble when it comes to spending on their pet projects and perks, but by no means are Republicans the fiscally responsible party (remember the Bush tax cuts and off budget war?) I contend that conservatives merely have a more disciplined message about it.

    I may have often disagreed with his positions, but I respected that Wally Herger sent out a traditional congressional newsletter. I always appreciated getting those. I find nothing untoward in 8 pages of actual content in one color on plain paper.

    I agree that communication with constituents is important and I want to hear from my congressman, but I don’t like to see my money wasted on fancy color mailers. Kudos to the AP for bringing to light what I tried and failed illuminate.

  3. Thanks Gail. I remember that letter, and you did illuminate this issue. I wouldn’t let The Union’s commenters get you down. They are anonymous, like “dirtmover” or “redneck farmer.” I haven’t heard the paper’s management address this with readers lately, but others are. Bob Garza sent along this link http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/12/technology/12comments.html (News sites rethink anonymous comments online).

  4. McClintock seems to have made a huge P R effort in Nevada County this past year, possibly hoping to woo voters back who gave a strong win to Charlie Brown, and overcome the carpetbagger tag. However, either he or whoever his campaign advisors are do not appear to be doing a good job, and robo calls at dinner time and lavish spending of taxpayer money to promote his image may come back to bite them on election day, which rolls around pretty fast for 2-year termers.

  5. As usual the main-stream media is into soundbites rather than real reporting.

    Two important facts that were missed:

    1) The minority party does not set the budgets nor the rules for congressional offices. Congressman McClintock would be happy to see ALL of the office budgets reduced, but he is not into unilateral disarmament by minority members.

    2) Congressman McClintock has a large mail expense because he puts more focus there rather than putting it into staff. When you compare the overall budgets he is right in line with the average expenditures.

    Part of the reason that Gail got the reaction she did is that the folks in the district appreciate the surveys that McClintock sends out for input and the time and effort that he puts into the live tele-conference calls where people can ask him questions directly. Most members are not willing to solicit honest opinions or to face unscripted questions in front of a live audience.

    John

    1. John, my point is that those surveys don’t need to be done in color on fancy paper. Mr. Herger’s newsletters and surveys worked just as well on plain paper.

      So let me ask a serious question? If this were flipped and our congressman had a “D” behind his name, would you and the “folks” be as enthusiastic about the expense? If you don’t care and you see these fancy mailers as appropriate no matter who does them or irregardless of their oft stated position on government spending, then good on you.

      I don’t want any members of congress spending in this wasteful way. That includes members of both parties and independents. In this case, however, I’m particularly concerned because this waste is being done by my congressman. And I would have some real respect for him if he practiced the fiscal responsibility that he preaches.

  6. “Congressman McClintock would be happy to see ALL of the office budgets reduced, but he is not into unilateral disarmament by minority members.”

    This is an absurd, irrelevant and moot statement.

    “Congressman McClintock has a large mail expense because he puts more focus there rather than putting it into staff. When you compare the overall budgets he is right in line with the average expenditures.”

    This is, again, very specious. Give accurate comparative numbers with an honest over view from an indisputable source if you’re going to throw around factoids like that. Otherwise save them for your choir.

  7. “Congressman McClintock has a large mail expense because he puts more focus there rather than putting it into staff. When you compare the overall budgets he is right in line with the average expenditures.”

    So, if this is true, we can learn a lot about the man.

    More mailers and surveys, tailored & designed to bolster his world view. Less staffers to help answer constituents’ questions. Fewer staffers to help research issues for him that he doesn’t understand. Fewer staffers to help him relate to other members of Congress. Yup, that about fits.

  8. “Most members are not willing to solicit honest opinions or to face unscripted questions in front of a live audience.

    John”

    *********************************************

    I might believe this, if transcripts of every detail of every conference call were available online, with links to the actual MP3’s every couple of pages. Are they?

  9. I would be very happy if Congress had a lot less of its very highly paid staff. Bloated, out of touch.

    I also wish those mailings were outlawed. It is effectively free campaigning. Dont’ we have the Internet to do alot of this for free?

  10. Ok, I don’t agree with Congressman McClintock on the big issues, and didn’t vote for him. But I do like his robo-calls and have listened in on a couple of them. He strikes me as an articulate and conscientious conservative who represents his position well and knowedgably. I also appreciate his principled stand on earmarks, even though it disadvantages Nevada County.

    On the calls, McClintock is personable with those who disagree with his positions, which I find refreshing. He does not shut down people who disagree with him, unlike some talk-radio hosts. In other words, he listens. I think that if he and I avoided the hot-button issues, we would probably find much to agree with–as I would with most Americans. If I had a problem which did not involve earmarks, I suspect his office would be receptive to my call.

    McClintock is the only representative I have with the guts to use such a personal method of communicating with his constituency. Good for him!

  11. “I think that if he and I avoided the hot-button issues, we would probably find much to agree with–as I would with most Americans.”

    That’s a pretty damn bizarre thing to say. And as far as “most Americans” I know you don’t speak for me. And your presumption is arrogant and pure h.s.

  12. Bruce–There is a large consensus about many broad questions in the US. How about these: Social Security, some level of social support for the poor, freedom of speech, provision of public education, the right to vote, a need to purge racial discrimination from our society, the provision of public roads, the protection of clean water, clean air, and maintaining a criminal justice system all come quickly to mind. There are a bunch of other things listed in the Bill of Rights, too. The list could go on and on….

    We of course disagree often about the means to go about solving these problems, and sustaining our ideals. That is why I didn’t vote for McClintock, and probably won’t next time. But that doesn’t mean that there are not many core principles we share.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s