Iowa’s First District Congressman, Rod Blum got himself a little publicity he didn’t want … in the Des Moines Register and on Twitter
News of Blum's undisclosed business comes the same day @ppppolls finds him with underwater approval and trailing a Dem competitor
Blum approval: 37%-47%
Trump approval: 40%-55%
2018 matchup: Abby Finkenauer 43%, Rod Blum 42%#IA01https://t.co/hn4kxvx0cMhttps://t.co/7GLdepCps8
— Randy Renstrom (@RandyRenstrom) February 21, 2018
— Thomas Heckroth (@HeckrothForIowa) February 21, 2018
So how do you counter that story … by pushing your own … as Congressman Rod Blum did on FOX Business
Stopped by @Varneyco @FoxBusiness to discuss my office budget savings of over $275,000– represents enough money to purchase a metal detector for nearly all high schools in #IA01. pic.twitter.com/UZaYcSi5HX
— Congressman Rod Blum (@RepRodBlum) March 1, 2018
So apparently Rod Blum has written a $275,725.80 check to the US Treasury … good you say, but like most poster board checks, they are just for publicity purposes.
Like the publicity he got when Blum’s campaign website argued that all members should have their pay halved until the budget is balanced.
“I will lead by example and voluntarily cut my pay by returning half to charities and volunteer organizations in the First District of Iowa,” the site stated.
Blum’s half-salary donation would be $87,000. But can anyone say if Congressman Blum followed through on his campaign promise ?
What is really going on is that Congressman Blum is promoting the fact that he did not spend all the monies that were allocated to him to operate his congressional office in 2017 … over $1,300,000.00.
Note : this figure does not include government contributions for employee benefits — health and life insurance and retirement (which are paid through another House account), the cost of DC office space, and various services provided by other House administrative offices (i.e. District Office security upgrades, maintenance, and monthly monitoring fees.)
Before getting into Congressman Blum’s actual spending, let’s acknowledge a couple of other facts :
— each Member’s authorization for 2017 was increased “by approximately 3.9% of the average MRA.” [Members’ Representational Allowance]
This resulted in an average increase of approximately $47,000.
— Appropriations are not spending.
In reality, few lawmakers spend every cent of their allotment, and many leave hundreds of thousands of dollars unspent.
In summary, their allocated spending was increased but most Members never spend the full amount allocated … so in short, Congressman Blum is promoting “Alternative Facts“.
That said … instead of looking at how much Congressman Blum wants to say he didn’t spend, let’s look at how much he did spend …
$1,110,373.57 in 2015 (his first year in Congress)
$1,197,917.64 in 2016
$ 907,190.86 in 2017
OK … FRANKly, Iowans should be impressed … Congressman Blum is spending less of the taxpayer’s dollars.
But how (or what) did he cut ?
Well, salaries, travel, office rent, supplies and equipment rental, indicate that 2017 ($743,266) was just about the same as 2016 spending ($745,111) … but two other spending categories stand out.
First, FRANKED mailings … the term “franked mail” applies to the official correspondence sent by members of Congress using their signatures, rather than stamps. Members pay the equivalent of postage out of annual office budgets. Yep, in the age of emails and taxpayer funded congressional websites, Members still send mailings to taxpayers.
And FRANKED mail is something that Congressman Blum is known for … in December 2015, TH Media reported Congressman Blum spent more on taxpayer-funded mass mailings in the first three quarters of 2015 than any of his more than 400 colleagues in the U.S. House.
In 2016, Congressman Blum’s MRA reported FRANKED mail spending at $170,748.41 … and in 2017 ( a non-election year), that spending dropped to $49,844.10.
For comparison sake, in 2017, Democrat Dave Loebsack in Iowa’s Second District spent $2,517.29, Republican David Young in Iowa’s Third District spent $20,170.71, and Republican Steve King in Iowa’s Fourth District spent $5,756.62.
FRANKly, all taxpayers should be glad that Congressman Blum is exercising some fiscal restraint … although think that he has a long way to go.
But that is not the only category of spending that dropped … there is also, Printing and Reproduction.
In 2016, Congressman Blum’s MRA reported Printing and Reproduction spending at $282,058.08 … and in 2017 ( a non-election year), that spending dropped to $114,081.25.
Once again, all taxpayers should be glad that Congressman Blum is exercising some fiscal restraint.
Yet, don’t ya gotta ask yourself … isn’t that a lot of “printing” ?
Well, a review of 4Q2016 spending, reveals payments of $70,537.23 to the Honorable Rod Blum with a notation of “Advertisements”.
[FunFact : When he was in the House, Jeff Flake tried to get the House to pass H.Res.482 – Prohibiting the use of a Members’ representational allowance to obtain advertising on any Internet site other than an official site of the Member involved … but could not get any support for his proposal.]
Sure would like to know what that “advertisements” were ? Hopefully it was publicizing veterans’ job fairs or Town Halls … and not subliminal campaign messaging.
Looking at the 2017 spending, there are many payments to many radio stations — Delaware County Broadcasting, KM Radio of Independence LLC, MTN Broadcasting, NRG Media, Radio Dubuque Inc.– just to name a few.
Gosh, sure hope those payments for advertisements didn’t impact any “hard questioning” related to Congressman Blum’s “Tin Moon” association.
Yet, there is a payment of $1,863.19 for October advertising to John O. Ferland.
Hmmmm …. taxpayers might recognize the name, John O Ferland, since they paid for his services as District Director in the office of Congressman Rod Blum.
BTW, “Tin Moon” had an online video testimonial showing “John Ferland representing Digital Canal” and claiming to be a satisfied customer.
Democrat challengers — Abby Finkenauer, Thomas Heckroth, George Ramsey III, and Courtney Rowe — are lining up to face Rod Blum in November … but ya gotta wonder if he will survive the ethics investigation.
Regardless, taxpayers need to see that Congressman Blum is campaigning on misleading the taxpayers … heck, he didn’t even sponsor H.R.3077 – Giveback Deficit Reduction Act which would have “require any amounts remaining in Members’ Representational Allowances at the end of a fiscal year to be deposited in the Treasury and used for deficit reduction or to reduce the Federal debt.”
Yep, every time you hear a Congressman preaching “Washington Must Do More With Less” … or get one of those glossy mailers … or hear a commercial on the radio mentioning their Congressman, ya gotta ask yourself “Is this a good expenditure that the taxpayers should be paying for” ?”
Simply put, every Member of Congress is essentially a “small business” employing no more than 18 permanent employees, so ignore the poster board check, and look at how well they are spending taxpayer dollars in their own congressional “small business” called the Members’ Representational Allowance.