Oklahoma Republican used taxpayer dollars to blast government spending

By Stephen C. Webster
Sunday, May 9, 2010 19:51 EDT
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In a piece of very campaign-like literature recently mailed by Rep. Mary Faillin (R-OK), complaints of wasteful government spending abound.

The message would seem sincere, were it not for a block of small text noting that the congresswoman paid for the mailer with taxpayer funds.

On the document, which declares that the congresswoman wants to “reduce the tax burden on all Americans,” Rep. Fallin touts her conservative credits by noting she voted against the “government regulation of health care,” the stimulus, the “potential job-killing” cap and trade measures and the president’s entire 2010 budget.

On the front of her full-color, professionally designed placard, printed in small, thin text, a message reads: “This mailing was prepared, published and mailed at taxpayer expense.”

Rep. Fallin, elected to Congress in 2006, was previously a state representative and Oklahoma’s lieutenant governor. She is currently running for governor and facing challengers from both the political left and right.

The mailer seems similar in spirit to materials produced after the Committee on House Administration approved expenses requested by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), who purchased ad space on Google to promote a “town hall” about “OUT OF CONTROL SPENDING.” His name is the largest font featured in the ad, next only to his characterization of the government’s budget.

Spending taxpayer dollars on campaign materials is illegal, yet both of these representatives appear to have found a loophole, simply by calling it something different.

Rep. Fallin’s mailer was first noticed by the blog Oklahoma Citizen in a non-byline piece that asserts she would be “a bad Governor.”

While she has indeed voted against a variety of government spending since President Obama took office, Rep. Fallin’s mailer does not mention her support of taxpayer dollars for the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network, a national parks service based in the waters between Virginia and Maryland. On this item, she even broke with Republicans, moving ahead to authorize the stunningly vague “such sums as are necessary”. Rep. Fallin’s own party cited Congressional Budget Office figures estimating the funds wound top $1 million annually, although the gateways saw federal dollars at some $3 million a year from 1998-2002.

Nor does Rep. Fallin’s mailer mention that her largest campaign donor is Chesapeake Energy, a natural gas company based in Oklahoma City, followed in her top 10 most generous contributors by groups like The American Bankers Association, BP Capital, the National Beer Wholesalers Association and Anadarko Petroleum.

“[Just] like her “no” vote on the Stimulus and taking credit for the projects in Oklahoma later on – Fallin is trying to have it both ways… again,” DailyKos blogger SamsonWH opined. “She wants the photo-op she just doesn’t want to spend the money, she wants to cut spending but still wants to spend, she wants to call on Congress and the White House to enact her agenda but she’s leaving the House to run for Governor.  She’s like one of those 2 and 3 year old kids who want something when they want it and how they want it and by golly NOW.”

Hoping to obtain the exact amount of taxpayer dollars Rep. Fallin spent on the literature, RAW STORY submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to her congressional staff, requesting electronic access to receipts tracking expenditures on direct-mail materials, graphic design and publishing services from Feb. 1, 2010 – May 9, 2010.  A telephone call to her campaign offices went unanswered on Sunday, but a detailed message was left along with this reporter’s contact information.

Rep. Fallin’s recent direct-mailer follows (click for larger versions).

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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