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AP: Paulsen 3rd in Congress for mass communications spending

Posted by: Eric Roper under Minnesota congressional Updated: March 26, 2010 - 5:47 PM

An Associated Press analysis of House office expenditures released today found that Rep. Erik Paulsen spent more on mass communications than almost every member of Congress in 2009.

The AP placed Paulsen, a staunch fiscal conservative, third in a list of the top spenders on mass communications. That includes taxpayer dollars for "postage, printing and reproduction for mass mailings as well as such other means as robo-calls and telephone conference calls with constituents."

Altogether, the Republican freshman spent $413,996 on mass communications last year.

Franked mail alone can sometimes amount to about 10 percent of a member's total budget. Paulsen has also hosted numerous tele-town halls with constituents, which can cost several thousand dollars each.

The AP reviewed Paulsen's mailings and concluded that many contain information "readily available elsewhere."

At least one of Paulsen's constituents has noticed a similar trend. Eden Prarie resident Debra Hoffman wrote to the Star Tribune yesterday about this issue. (FEC records indicate Hoffman has donated to several Democratic campaigns, including Paulsen's past challenger Ashwin Madia).

"Third District Republican U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen has sent out several mailings of what must amount to tens of thousands of full-color, glossy brochures," Hoffman wrote. "The one I received espoused his political point of view on all four pages. A small, three-question survey took up a third of the last page. Other brochures Paulsen has sent have been similarly laid out."

Paulsen's office contends that they are merely prioritizing constituent services over other parts of their official budget because he is a freshman.

"As a new member, our constituents want to know what Congress is doing about these issues, where he stands on these issues and what he is focusing on in Congress," said Paulsen spokester Luke Friedrich. "To meet this need, we’ve decided to prioritize our allocated budget to focus heavily on constituent outreach through a variety of measures.”

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