07.27.09

Franking Commission draws the line on Rep. Carter

Posted in Bad Government Republicans, Commentary, Congress, District 31, Had Enough Yet?, Health Care, Right Wing Lies, Williamson County at 12:06 pm by dembones

At various times over the past three years, most households in Rep. John Carter’s 31st Congressional District have received taxpayer-paid missives from the Round Rock Republican featuring his rants decrying alleged wastes of taxpayer money. A few get the irony, and now even the House of Representative’s non-partisan Franking Commission, which polices members’ taxpayer-paid constituent communications for political bias, has decided Carter has gone too far.

The conservative mouthpiece Cybercast News Service is reporting that an email Carter introduced at a press conference Thursday was rejected by the Franking Commission for use in taxpayer-funded constituent communications, such as postage and printing on official House stationery. In a message critical of proposed Democratic Healthcare reforms, Carter said “The House Democrats unveiled a government-run health care plan.” The Franking Commission asked Carter to change the phrase “government run” to “public option.”

Carter has now released the Franking Commission’s email to the press, to expose what he calls the Commission’s suppression of his freedom of speech. Carter’s misrepresentation of the Franking Commission’s duties raises familiar questions of whether the Republican representative is being dishonest or if in fact he is ignorant of the law. The Franking Commission prevents the use of taxpayer funds by Congressmen who cloak political campaigning within the confines of constituent communications. Rules and guidelines related to the franking privilege of members of Congress are provided here (PDF).

The Franking Commission interprets the rules on what pieces of mail qualify for the franking privilege. The Commission explained to Carter that his submission was not qualified, and suggested changes in language to bring it into compliance. Their actions do not limit the ability of Carter to speak his mind on proposed legislation, since he is free to say or write whatever he wants. He just can’t mail it to constituents for free. The use of taxpayer funds to disseminate his words in this case is a violation of federal law. He is free to say it, but our tax dollars should not pay for his megaphone.

Yet, Carter is playing a familiar role as victim, whining to friendly media outlets who’ll dutifully print his protestations verbatim:

“Why does the Franking Commission have the right to prevent me from freely speaking what I think my folks back home ought to hear…”

“I think that is an abridgement of free speech,” he said.

During Rep. Carter’s first four years in the House of Representatives, he was a trusted ally of disgraced Republican former Representative Tom DeLay, in the majority, and freely able to proselytize his constituents at taxpayers’ expense. Now, in his third year in the minority, he appears to be unhappy with his current office. One wonders why he continues to run for re-election if he can no longer function effectively.

UPDATE: Note well the bias of CNS News’ headline, “House Democrats Censor Republican’s Use of Term ‘Government-Run’ Health Care in Constituent Communications.” The Franking Commission is a six-member committee formed by three members of each party. The Franking Commission’s staff is in fact responsible for the suggested corrections, so the House Democrats had little or nothing to do with this action.

15 Comments »

  1. Ahimsakid said,

    July 29, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Good on you DemBones, nice writeup!
    I saw this on Carter’s Facebook page and was appalled at the reaction he drew there.

  2. Eye on Williamson » Texas Blog Round Up (August 3, 2009) said,

    August 3, 2009 at 10:41 am

    [...] Dembones at Eye On Williamson points out Rep. John Carter’s latest nuttiness, Franking Commission draws the line on Rep. Carter. [...]

  3. BigDuck said,

    August 3, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    I’m trying to find out where Rep. Carter will be doing townhalls or other appearances during the recess. They’re apparently being very careful in who they announce these to.

    Anybody have info?

  4. wcnews said,

    August 3, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    I’m not sure. I’m sure someone in one of his offices would be happy to help you with that.

    Washington, D.C. Office
    409 C.H.O.B.
    Washington, D.C. 20515
    (202) 225-3864

    Round Rock District Office
    One Financial Centre
    1717 North IH 35
    Suite 303
    Round Rock, TX 78664
    (512) 246-1600

    Bell County Office
    6544B S. General Bruce Drive
    Temple, TX 76502
    Located next to the DPS office
    (254) 933-1392

  5. BigDuck said,

    August 4, 2009 at 1:23 am

    I called. They weren’t especially helpful.

    I’ve been to two events in the last couple of years where he was scheduled to attend but did not. Maybe he doesn’t like meeting the people he represents.

  6. Texas blog roundup for the week of August 3 – Off the Kuff said,

    August 4, 2009 at 5:20 am

    [...] Dembones at Eye On Williamson points out Rep. John Carter’s latest nuttiness, Franking Commission draws the line on Rep. Carter. [...]

  7. wcnews said,

    August 4, 2009 at 8:56 am

    That sounds like chicken John Carter.

  8. Eye on Williamson » The health care fight & where’s John Carter? said,

    August 4, 2009 at 9:47 am

    [...] (R-Round Rock) will be hosting any town hall meetings over the summer recess. As you can see in the comments to the latest post on Carter nuttiness, his staff isn’t being very helpful on that [...]

  9. RobinGTown said,

    August 4, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    Folks, why would Carter’s staff be helpful to you if you are describing his position as nutty? I assure you that the late Congressman Pickle, who wasn’t quite the last Democrat to represent Williamson County (back in the 60’s when WilCo was in his district), would have had some very choice words to people who made comments like that to him, because I heard them. How about setting aside the “nuttiness” characterization and then trying again?

  10. wcnews said,

    August 4, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    We’ll take it into consideration.

  11. dembones said,

    August 4, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    RobinGTown,

    First, I really appreciate your taking the time to comment on my post. I see your point, and can name at least one person I know that is having limited success engaging Rep. John Carter’s staff in a thoughtful, courteous and respectful manner on poverty issues.

    In general, I try to avoid using terms like the one you mentioned when describing a politician I am criticizing. Such terms express an opinion that is impossible to prove and can turn a serious conversation about issues into a shouting match. That is why, after reading your comment, I double-checked that I had not used the word in the text of my post.

    However, I did use the very handy search box on this blog, entering the word “nuttiness”, and found it in a number of posts here. The term is always used in reference to Rep. Carter, and started on May 13, when the Austin Chronicle asked the rhetorical question:

    “Is John Carter a nutball?”

    Please read that post here:

    http://eyeonwilliamson.org/?p=4773

    You’ll notice that it was actually John Carter who started the name-calling, by asking the question in a newsletter his office published: “Is Barack Obama a Marxist?”

    I agree it is, in general, polite to respect the office even when disagreeing with the officeholder. That, after all, is how we at EOW survived the Bush (43) Presidency with our wits in tact. However, I have to say that the example Congressman John Carter set when he failed to respect our President is far more damaging to the discourse than anything we printed on our blog.

    Although we’ll continue to pay respect to the office of Congressional Representative from Texas’ 31st District, it is our opinion that the man holding that office is unworthy and undeserving of that respect. He lacks intelligence, is a lousy public speaker, is thin-skinned and all-too-easily frustrated, and is afraid to appear in public venues where his positions may be subject to criticism.

  12. Eye on Williamson » KBTX debunks one of John Carter’s Franking Commission claims said,

    August 5, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    [...] July 27, we reported that Rep. John Carter (R-TX31) was complaining to conservative media about Democrats on the Franking Commission forcing him to change some of the words in a proposed [...]

  13. Eye on Williamson » Carter’s Craziness said,

    August 5, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    [...] request that he stop calling it “government-run” health care. Dembones covered this a bit already. Just to recap, Carter’s craziness here is on two [...]

  14. Texas Progressive Alliance Weekly Round Up « TexasVox: The Voice of Public Citizen in Texas said,

    August 6, 2009 at 7:07 am

    [...] Dembones at Eye On Williamson points out Rep. John Carter’s latest nuttiness, Franking Commission draws the line on Rep. Carter. [...]

  15. Texas Blog Roundup | BlueRoots Campaigns said,

    September 16, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    [...] Dembones at Eye On Williamson points out Rep. John Carter’s latest nuttiness, Franking Commission draws the line on Rep. Carter. [...]

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