Franking Privilege: Mass Mailings and Mass Communications in the House, 1997-2012 [June 11, 2013]   [open pdf - 319KB]

"Despite significant reductions in congressional mail postage costs over the past 25 years, critics continue to raise concerns that the franking privilege is both financially wasteful and gives an unfair advantage to incumbents in congressional elections. In particular, mass mailings have come under increased scrutiny as critics argue that the vast majority of franked mail is unsolicited and, in effect, publicly funded campaign literature. This report provides an analysis of House Member mass mailings (1997-2008, 2012) and mass communications (2009-2012). A mass mailing is defined by statute as a franked mailing of 500 or more substantially similar pieces of unsolicited mail sent in the same session of Congress. Mass communications include all unsolicited mailings or communications of substantially identical content distributed to 500 or more persons, regardless of media. Examples of mass communications include radio, television, newspaper, and Internet advertisements; automated phone calls; mass facsimiles; and mass emails distributed to a non-subscriber e-mailing list. Between 1997 and 2008, House Members sent 1.34 billion pieces of mass mail at a total postage cost of $224.5 million, producing a calendar-year average of 111.6 million pieces of mass mail costing an average of $18.7 million (Table 1). Most Representatives sent mass mailings. During each calendar year 1997-2008, an average of 84% of House Members sent at least one mass mailing. Among Members who sent at least one mass mailing, the average annual number of pieces of mail sent by a Member was 303,270 at a postage cost of $50,834."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL34458
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Via E-mail
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