WASHINGTON – Republican U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen has nearly doubled his spending on taxpayer-funded mass mailings out of his official congressional office ahead of his re-election battle.
In 2014 and 2015, Paulsen spent $66,000 and $62,000, respectively, on mass mailings to constituents. So far in 2016, when DFL state Sen. Terri Bonoff announced in April she was challenging Paulsen, his office’s spending jumped to $116,257, according to House records.
Watchdog groups often criticize incumbents’ mailing privileges as an unfair bill to lay on taxpayers. Paulsen isn’t alone in using mailings more during an election season. The Congressional Research Service last year saw spikes in mailings from official offices during years members were up for re-election.
Republicans point out that Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan is on pace to double his correspondence spending this year as he fights for his seat against GOP candidate Stewart Mills. In all of last year, Nolan spent $81,000. This year, he has spent that much through June 30.
Paulsen’s office said the congressman “believes it is a priority to keep his constituents updated and informed on his work in Congress. This has been a priority of his throughout his time in Congress and is part of his efforts to be the most transparent and effective representative he can be.”
Democrats say the trend shows that he is not being straight with voters and that the mailers are essentially taxpayer-funded campaign literature.
“Voters in Minnesota are not going to support someone they can’t trust to be straight with them or use their tax dollars wisely,” the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said in a statement.
Congressional researchers found that some 94 percent of Congress members sent at least one mailing between 2009 and 2014.
Allison Sherry • 202-662-7433