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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

‘Shea-Porter’s mailing at taxpayer expense totaling $1,059 was an abuse of the representative’s franking privilege.’



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Back in June, I noted some reports that Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, Democrat of New Hampshire, may have violated state law by obtaining a list of graduating high-school students to send a congratulatory letter. (More than a few folks wondered if the letter was not-too-subtle campaigning to new voters.)

State law declares:

No personally identifiable information, including but not limited to name, date of birth, gender, or social security number, shall be provided to any person or entity absent a court order, and under no circumstances shall personally identifiable information be provided to any person or entity outside of New Hampshire. Any person who knowingly violates this provision is guilty of a class B felony and may be subject to involuntary termination of employment.

The penalty for a Class B felony is one to seven years.

The Nashua Telegram picks up on this in an editorial:

Shea-Porter’s mailing at taxpayer expense totaling $1,059 was an abuse of the representative’s franking privilege — the authority granted Congress to use the U.S. Postal Service for constituent communication. They are specifically forbidden from using the privilege for campaigning, which this clearly is . . . The schools should be off-limits for partisan political campaigning, whether by mail or on-premise distribution. School officials in Nashua, to their credit, denied a request from another legislator seeking the home addresses of students graduating from Nashua’s two high schools this year.

Will any prosecutor find this worthy of attention? Or are certain laws optional for members of Congress?


Tags: Carol Shea Porter


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