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Bloggers file ethics complaint against Bachmann

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Several Minnesota bloggers have filed an ethics complaint with the House Ethics Office requesting an investigation into whether Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., has violated House franking rules regarding email usage.

The complaint – filed by bloggers Dusty Trice, Brian Falldin and Aaron Landry — alleges that Bachmann violated the rules when she sent an email to constituents in May, which directed them to the National Automobile Dealers Association.

The rules specify that a member may refer the reader of a mailing to any government resource (federal, state or local) and various private entities administering public policy programs. An example would be regional Medicare insurance carriers or the Red Cross when acting with FEMA.

Bachmann’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.

(Never heard of “franking” before? Here is some interesting info from the House: The word is derived from the Latin word “francus,” meaning free. The term and the practice were first established in Britain in the 17th century to facilitate inter and intra government communications. In the United States, however, it has never been free. It differs from postage in that the official communication mailed or emailed under the frank is paid after the fact rather than in advance of the item being mailed.)

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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Steven Smith on 07/30/2009 - 08:42 am.

    “The rules specify that a member may refer the reader of a mailing to any government resource (federal, state or local) and various private entities administering public policy programs.” Where is that rule?

  2. Submitted by Tim Walker on 07/30/2009 - 08:57 am.

    Does anyone know whether the National Automobile Dealers Association has donated to Bachmann’s campaign?

  3. Submitted by Andrew Eggenberger on 07/30/2009 - 10:29 am.

    Steven,

    The House ethics rules for 2008 are available in .pdf form at http://ethics.house.gov/Pubs/Default.aspx, and the discussion of “the Frank” begins on 332.
    I think the material pertinent to the Bachmann complaint starts on 334 with the definition of “outside” groups.

  4. Submitted by Aaron Landry on 07/31/2009 - 03:06 pm.

    Tim-

    http://www.campaignmoney.com/political/committees/dealers-election-action-committee-of-the-national-automotive-dealers-association.asp?cycle=06

    http://www.campaignmoney.com/political/committees/dealers-election-action-committee-of-the-national-automotive-dealers-association.asp?cycle=08

  5. Submitted by Steven Smith on 08/02/2009 - 09:40 am.

    Andrew, I see no rule there or elsewhere that explicitly prohibits a legislator from directing constituents to a private organization for this kind of purpose.

  6. Submitted by Steven Smith on 08/02/2009 - 09:41 am.

    PS I think Cynthia reworded her story since the original post.

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