Renee Ellmers’ $72,000 postage stamp

Ellmers jleonard@newsobserver.com

Renee Ellmers didn’t hesitate to take then-2nd District U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge to task for using his free mailing privileges for members of Congress when she was running against him in 2010. The Dunn Republican wrote him a letter claiming he was wasting thousands of dollars. Will Ellmers now be dropping herself a line?

What a difference an election makes. Now the 2nd District representative, Ellmers is looking at primary challengers among Republicans. And she mailed out nearly $72,000 worth of material at taxpayers’ expense between July and September. In her mailings, Ellmers has blasted the Affordable Care Act, despite its many successes. (North Carolina is in the top six states in terms of enrolling more than half of those citizens eligible for the ACA.)

Ellmers’ GOP primary opponents are criticizing her use of franking, with some saying she’s using it not to primarily communicate with the folks back home, but to build her political support at taxpayer expense.

The content of franking is reviewed by a bipartisan commission; rules prohibit soliciting political money and the use of franking for partisan motives. Regardless of how the commission sees these mailings, Ellmers has failed her own standard for proper use of the privilege.