It’s a mistake that will cost U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy less than a cup of coffee, but sending five taxpayer funded mailers to the wrong Congressional District gave his opponents in the U.S. Senate race something to talk about.
A week ago a mailer from Murphy’s Congressional Office showed up at CTNewsjunkie’s home in Windsor, which is in the 1st Congressional District. Murphy currently represents the 5th Congressional District. It was one of five addresses in Windsor to receive the mailing, according to Murphy’s office.
The disclaimer at the bottom of the mailer says, “This mailing was prepared, published, and mailed at taxpayer expense.”
The House Administration’s Franking Commission, which approves the size, color, shape, and wording of each piece of mail sent out at taxpayer expense, said sending a piece of mail outside a Congressional District is not allowed under the current rules.
A 1992 court decision ruled a provision that allowed Congress to send mail outside their districts was “unconstitutional.”
“He will have to use his personal funds to reimburse the Treasury for the cost of the mailings,” Salley Wood, a spokesman for the Franking Commission said earlier this week.
The grand total of the mistake will cost Murphy 96 cents.
“Our office is taking care of the situation and is already taking steps to remedy it,” Ben Marter, Murphy’s spokesman, said earlier this week.
It’s unknown if any of the other 40,000 pieces of mail left the 5th Congressional District, but Murphy’s office said it is double checking its list, which it obtained from the Secretary of the State’s office in July.
Murphy has already written a check to the U.S. Treasury to reimburse it for the expense of the five mailings that ended up in Windsor.
At least two of his opponents in the U.S. Senate race were willing to comment on the mistake.
“The fact that he would use taxpayer funded mail to send campaign-style brochures outside his district clearly violates if not the law, then at least the spirit of the law and he should pay for every penny of it,” former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays, one of Murphy‘s Republican opponents in the U.S. Senate race, said this week.
Shays, a former Congressman from the 4th Congressional District, said when he was in office he did use these types of mailings to reach his constituents early on in his career, but discontinued them because he didn’t believe they were “a good use of taxpayers money.” He said he thinks it’s odd that such a mistake would happen when Murphy is also running a statewide campaign for U.S. Senate.
But Murphy’s office said five pieces of mail is hardly a conspiracy.
In a conference call Thursday, former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, who is vying for the Democratic nomination along with Murphy, said she wants to eliminate taxpayer funded mailers, like the one Murphy sent.
She said those types of “glossy campaign style mailers” do nothing to help constituents.
“I think we can save a lot of money if we eliminate those,” she said.
Eliminating the mailers is part of Bysiewicz’s “Accountability Plan” that she unveiled Thursday.