U.S. House members spent US$27.9M sending out more than 77 million pieces of franked mail from April 1-Dec. 31, 2011, study finds; 80% sent out unsolicited mail, freshmen spent the most
May 16, 2012
– Members of U.S. House of Representatives spent US$27.9 million sending out more than 77 million pieces of franked mail from April 1 to Dec. 31 2011, USA Today reported May 15.
That amounts to an average cost of $63,000 for each of the 444 elected representatives who served for some portion of the nine-month period.
While 80% of House members sent out unsolicited mail during this time-frame, freshmen are spending the most. In 2010, each freshmen spent an average of $101,764 on franked mail, while second- and third-term members, respectively, spent $80,186 and $46,805, according to a 2011 study by the independent Congressional Management Foundation that found members generally send less franked mail over time, as they become more established in their districts, USA Today reported.
In 2011, the 87 freshmen Republican Representatives spent almost $9.8 million sending out more than 25.6 million unsolicited items of mail, according the House chief administrative officer’s record review.
Congressional franked mail consists of official business mailings that members of both the House and the Senate are allowed to send out at taxpayer expense, although senators tend to send out far less franked mail than representatives because of a mass-mailing cap during the fiscal year, USA Today noted.
Representatives do not have a designated fund for franked mail, but they receive an office budget to allocate largely as they choose on expenses such as communications, equipment, rent, staff and supplies. The average office budget for representatives in 2011was $1.45 million, according to USA Today.
The primary source of this article is USA Today, McLean, Virginia, on May 15, 2012.