Scott Tibbs

Take the politicians off welfare

By Scott Tibbs, February 23, 2022

When I got a full-color glossy mailer from my state senator, I initially assumed it was a campaign mailing. But like many I have gotten before - from both Republicans and Democrats - this was paid for by the taxpayers. The state legislature uses money forcibly confiscated from every taxpayer to fund their campaigns.

Do not be fooled: This is not an "informational" newsletter. This is meant to increase the profile of incumbent politicians and promote their views to voters. This is a campaign mailer. The newsworthy portion of the mailing could easily be accomplished on white paper, without glossy full color photos, perforation and irregular size, all of which significantly increases the price of the mailing.

We need to have campaign finance reform in the state of Indiana. This means that incumbents should not be permitted to use government resources for their campaigns. All funding for these "newsletters" should be abolished, and if legislators want to send full-color mailings they can pay for those mailings out of campaign funds. Challengers do not have the ability to use state resources to increase their own profiles, so this is an unfair advantage for incumbents. Here is the letter I sent to my state senator:

Senator Yoder,

I am disappointed by your most recent "newsletter." I am not disappointed by the contents of the "newsletter" itself, but the fact that you sent the "newsletter" in the first place. This has been a bad practice going back many years, from both Republicans and Democrats, and it is time for that practice to end.

I understand the arguments for keeping voters informed. That is indeed a wothwhile objective, especially for voters without Internet access. But that can be done in black and white on plain paper. Everyone knows the real purpose of these "newsletters." They exist to raise the profile and name ID of incumbent legislators, using taxpayer dollars - a resource that challengers do not have. Incumbents already have advantages, but the unfair use of tax dollars to raise your profile and get yourself in front of voters should not be one of them. It is no coincidence that these "newsletters" are strikingly similar to mailers sent by campaigns.

This is why I urge you to support campaign finance reform: Eliminate all funding for these full-color glossy newsletters on card stock. In the meantime, you can set a good example by refusing to use taxpayer dollars on your own newsletters, instead sending them with campaign funds. If you and others can set that example, perhaps it will serve as motivation to implement reform.

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