• Ga. rep proposes ending free mail for Congress


    A Georgia representative is going after congressional perk that costs millions in taxpayer dollars each year.
    Franking, a taxpayer-funded mail for members of congress, is a privilege that dates back hundreds of years. Congressional mail doesn’t need a stamp, just the member’s signature.
    Franked mail can be anything from letters responding to constituent questions, to pamphlets touting a member of congress’ views on things like immigration.
    Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga., wants to change that with a new bill.
    “In the name of restoring some public trust, in the name of making sure the same rules apply to everybody, it’s time to abolish the frank and treat congress just like everybody else,” Woodall said.
    Congress spent more than $7 million on franked mail on 2013, but more than triple that in 2012 – an election year.
    Critics have complained for years that the frank gives incumbents an unfair advantage.
    Records show that Woodall spent $40,000 in the first quarter on mass mailings, including an invitation to a veteran’s assistance open house.
    “I’m proud that I reach out to my constituents,” Woodall said.
    Woodall’s bill would not end mass mailings, but it would do away with the frank.
    Members of Congress would have to buy postage just like everyone else.
    “If you have to hide it, you shouldn’t be doing it. We’re going to shine some daylight on this issue,” Woodall said.
    Woodall does have a Democratic co-sponsor for his bill, but it will be an uphill fight getting members to give up the powerful perk.

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