Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012, 11:05 pm
Schilling spends $446,000 on mailings
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By Eric Timmons, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Colona, now has spent $446,000 on mass mailings in the last two years, the highest amount of any member of the House of Representatives.
The number is revealed in the latest disclosure of congressional expenses and means that Rep. Schilling has distributed over 1.1 million flyers in the 17th District since he took office in 2011.
He has surpassed Nevada Republican Congressman Joe Heck to take the number one spot in the House in terms of money spent on mass mailings, according to the expense report for the House that covers the period up to June 30. Rep. Heck has spent $422,000 on mass mailings.
The mailings sent by Congressmen must include the statement: "This mailing was prepared, published and mailed at taxpayer expense." All of the flyers are approved by a bipartisan commission and are not meant to be used for campaign purposes.
Terry Schilling, Rep. Schilling's campaign manager, said the mailings have led to a doubling in the caseload handled by the Republican's offices.
Congressional offices help constituents with issues related to federal benefits from programs like Medicare or with issues related to the Veterans Administration.
"We are helping to double veterans getting their medals and benefits for seniors from Medicare," Terry Schilling said. "We are advancing constituent services."
Democrat Cheri Bustos, of East Moline, said at a press conference in May that Rep. Schilling's mailers "deserve to go in the trash." At that stage, public records had shown that Rep. Schilling had spent $293,000 on mass mailings.
A spokesman for Ms. Bustos on Thursday suggested the mailers had crossed the line into campaign literature.
"It is unconscionable that Congressman Schilling would spend nearly half a million dollars of taxpayer money on glossy campaign style mailers," said Bustos spokesman Arden Manning. "Congressman Schilling owes it to our seniors to explain why they should pay more for Medicare while he uses their money to campaign."
The congressional perk that allows Congressmen to send out mass mailings has been around for a long time. The Post Office Act of 1792 allowed members of Congress to send and receive letters and packets up to two ounces in weight while Congress was in session without paying for postage.
A spokesman for Rep. Schilling said that Rep. Schilling had returned $110,000 from his office budget to taxpayers for the 2011 fiscal year after cutting expenses.
Top spenders on mass mailings
-Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Colona, $446,121.92
-Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., $422,426.83
-Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., $414,895.68
-Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wisc., $398,258.64
-Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., $397,797.45
-Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kans., $375,767.50
-Rep. Frank Guinta, R-N.H., $365,544.37
-Rep. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., $357,802.84
-Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Wisc., $353,446.39
-Rep. Austin Scott, R-Fla., $342,052.71
Source: Statements of disbursements of the U.S. House of Representatives.