Originally Posted Online: May 16, 2012, 8:17 pm
Last Updated: May 16, 2012, 10:59 pm
Schilling sent $293,000 in tax-funded mailings last nine months of 2011
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By Eric Timmons, firstname.lastname@example.org
U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Colona, spent $293,000 on taxpayer-funded mailings in the final nine months of 2011 -- a benefit of office he criticized as a candidate.
The mailers are a perk enjoyed by congressmen and a method they use to communicate with constituents and highlight legislative achievements. The mass mailings are not supposed to be used for campaign purposes.
In 2010, Rep. Schilling -- then a candidate running against incumbent Democrat Phil Hare -- criticized Mr. Hare for spending $114,000 on such mailings. At that time, he said "campaigns should be funded by donors and political parties, not the American taxpayer," adding it was time for a change.
"These mailers have been part of an unparalleled level of communication between congressman and constituent, something previously unheard of in this area," Terry Schilling, Rep. Schilling's campaign manager, said Wednesday. "We've heard from thousands of constituents on the issues that are affecting them, and we've received hundreds of cases directly because of the outreach of these mailers."
Rep. Schilling is being opposed by Democrat Cheri Bustos of East Moline in the November elections. An official with her campaign on Wednesday criticized Rep. Schilling's mass mailings.
"This is merely another sign of Bobby Schilling's mixed up priorities," said Bustos campaign manager Allison Jaslow. "He votes in lockstep with an agenda that will cut Social Security, end Medicare as we know it and sideline critical infrastructure projects, but is somehow comfortable spending hundreds of thousands of his constituents hard-earned tax dollars on a mail campaign similar to one he railed against to get elected."
Terry Schilling said his father remained a "champion of fiscal responsibility."
"Bobby rejected the congressional pension and health care plans, and he voted to freeze congressional pay. He also voted to cut congressional office budgets by 5 percent in 2011 and an additional 6.4 percent in 2012, and after all that he returned an additional $110,000 from his 2011 budget to the taxpayers," he added.
According to USA Today, Rep. Schilling spent the second highest amount in the U.S. House on unsolicited mass mailings between April 1 and Dec. 31 of last year. House rules allow the mailings, as long as they don't occur within 90 days of an election. The flyers also must be approved by the Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards.
The newspaper also said House members spent a total of $27.9 million on mass mailings in the last nine months of 2011. Figures for the first three months of 2011 were not available Wednesday.