More Frank Talk About Franking

Members of Congress have long had the privilege to send free mail to their voters in their districts known as “franking”. Although franked mail is routinely abused to foster good will in their districts, Congress has set some mild limits to prevent the franking privilege being used for blatant campaigning.

  • Franked mail is prohibited within 90 days of an election.
  •  “In any frankable mailing, the size on print type in which a Member’s name appears is limited to not more than 1/4 inch in height, except for the masthead where it may measure not more than 1/2 inch.”
  • “Mail matter which contains any logo, masthead design, slogan, or photograph which is a facsimile of any matter contained in a Member’s campaign literature is not frankable.”

Illegal franked mail by Jim Gerlach
Jim Gerlach has been in Congress for almost a decade, but he does not seem to have these rules straight yet. Joe Magid pointed out Gerlach’s violation of these rules during his campagin 2006 against Lois Murphy. Gerlach has again flagrantly violated these rules. I received his latest mailing last Thursday August 12 — 82 days before the upcoming election. It seems for some reason that we only hear from Gerlach when his reelection is about to come up. Perhaps Gerlach intended to send the mail before the legal deadline and unforeseen delays arose, but rules are rules.

Moreover, the glossy color brochure uses prohibited fonts and would easily be mistaken for campaign material were it not for the fine print stating that it was printed at the public’s expense.

I guess that is Gerlach’s position:

  • “No” to using government money to stimulate the economy,
  • “No” to providing health care to 9/11 heroes,
  • “No” to extending unemployment benefits, but
  • “Yes” to funneling money to his own campaign.


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