U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty of Connecticut’s 5th District spent $183,700 of taxpayer money in the past 18 months in a practice known as “franking,” according to an article published today by News Times.
Franking dates back to 1775 when the American Continental Congress authorized franking privileges to members as a way to better inform their constituents. The privileges allow congressmen to send mail free of charge, with taxpayers footing the bill.
Esty disregarded the added tax burden and spent more than all the rest of her Connecticut House colleagues combined. Additionally, during the same time period, Esty spent $25,199 on “robo-calls” to constituents. In comparison, the Connecticut House combined spent $15,546 during this time on 43,932 letters.
Her opponent, Republican Mark Greenberg, believes this is a waste of taxpayer money and was used for political gain.
Greenberg told Hearst Connecticut Media, “It’s an unfair advantage, frankly, especially since other members of this delegation have not felt the need to use it at taxpayer cost. Her use of it is just so outlandish.”
Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut’s 4th District only spent $2,330 on direct mail. Greenberg said he would not be using this outdated privilege. “The numbers are staggering. I think that’s where it really becomes wrong.”
If elected, Greenberg plans to support Republican Rep. Rob Woodall’s proposal to end franking. Esty defended this practice in a statement saying that her requests for franking communications must be approved by a bipartisan committee.