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What you pay to hear from Congress

Did you receive that shiny brochure in the mail last week from Congressman Allen Boyd? Did you know you paid for it? The four page, full color piece entitled “Congressman Allen Boyd – Delivering for Florida Veterans” details what Boyd has done for Florida veterans in recent years, including helping establish the Marianna VA Clinic that opened in 2008, securing $13 million for a new veterans outpatient clinic in Tallahassee, and voting for funding increases for VA. On the back of the mailout, that some local residents initially believed was a campaign brochure, there is some fine print beneath the address label. It reads: “This mailing was prepared, published and mailed at taxpayer expense.” This little note prompted The County Record to take a look at what taxpayers spend on these “Congressional newsletters.” When asked about the mailout via email Friday, particularly how much it cost to produce and mail, Boyd’s press secretary, Christopher Cashman responded, “The mailing you received is one form of communication that Members of Congress use to keep their constituents informed about the progress being made in Washington on their behalves. As mandated by law, the cost of mailings like these are published quarterly by the U.S. House of Representatives for all Members of Congress and available through the statement of disbursements. The statement of disbursements are published within 60 days of the close of each quarter.” Kelli Peacock Dunn of The County Record responded, “Thank you, Chris. However, I would like to know the cost of the mailings by Monday. Could your office provide that information since the piece was mailed from there? Does a print company invoice you for those costs?” While waiting for Cashman’s response, Th County Record checked out the statement of disbursements for Oct. 1, 2009 to Jan. 2, 2010 and learned Boyd distributed mass mailings to 290,247 homes for a total cost to taxpayers of $96,193.99 during the last quarter. Boyd’s office responded on Monday, advising that two mailouts were sent last quarter and said of the one mailed out last week, “I do not have final numbers for the mailing you received, but yes, I expect them to cost around the same as the two mailings sent during the last quarter, about $47,000.” To see what Congress is spending, go to http://disbursements.house.gov/

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