Fiscal conservatives always preach about “wasteful government spending by federal bureaucrats” and the need to “eliminate slush funds” … so voters should expect elected Republicans to led by example … right ?
And the one area that they can personally control is their own Member’s Representational Allowance (MRA). The MRA is to be used for necessary expenses to operate the congressional office … staff salaries, rent and utilities, travel, supplies and communications with constituents. Each Member is allowed a certain number of employees but other expenditures are at the discretion of the Member including mass mailings, radio communications, digital communications and even billboards such as informing constituents who their congressman is (very interesting when a Representative authorizes payment for a billboard on June 7 2022 – 18 months after the start of the session of Congress but a scant 5 months before Election Day.)
Following up on a previous MN Political Roundtable commentary that discussed Minnesota’s First District Congressman Brad Finstad was using his MRA for mass mailings (just before the November Election cut-off date) also recognized that Minnesota’s Eighth District Congressman Pete Stauber was also spending bigly.
That commentary noted six payments authorized by Representative Pete Stauber to KAP Franked totaling $69,995.32 in the Second Quarter Statement of Disbursements report (April through June 2022).
That prompted the question, who is KAP Franked … and the answer is they are part of KAP Strategies who is “in the business of winning elections.” KAP Strategies produces “specific, targeted and one of a kind creative concepts that get that extra look, get noticed, talked about and get acted on when people vote. Each piece is a mini-masterpiece of graphic artistry and copywriting, as different and personal as the candidate we’re working for.” The people employed by KAP Strategies are experienced with promoting Republican candidates … including former Minnesota First District Congressman Jim Hagedorn ( $30,691 paid by the Hagedorn For Congress campaign for his 2020 election.)
While Congressman Hagedorn was being investigated for shady dealings having spent $440,000 on companies connected to members of his staff … Congressman Stauber is using taxpayer dollars to pay for mailings produced by a company that’s core business is to promote Republican candidates.
It would not be a “gray” area, if the Pete Stauber For Congress campaign committee paid for the mailings produced by KAP Franked …. but these are being paid through taxpayer dollars as part of his MRA which should be related to conduct official duties of his office.
Reviewing the payments authorized by Congressman Stauber to KAP Franked reveals expenditures of $18,733.65 (April 1 2021), $14,135.23 (June 30 2021), $17,419.91 (August 6 2021) $19,020.43 (October 14 2021); $19,892.68 (November 9 2021), $16,035.00 (December 16 2021), $18,071.13 (December 22 2021), $16,260.02 (December 2021), $11,161.94 (February 24 2022) plus the six payments in the Second Quarter totaling $69,995.32 … that’s over $220,725 for production of mini-masterpieces of graphic artistry and copywriting. Since the disbursement report only lists payments made through June, there will be more payments that the taxpayers have paid (but voters will not know how much until after the November’s election). FunFact : Since Representative Stauber received 223,432 votes in the 2020 election, he will have spent more than one dollar in taxpayer-paid self-promoting mailers than votes he received.
Those “mini-masterpieces” have to be mailed … and taxpayers also paid for the postage. Payment records for postage reported on Congressman Stauber’s Statement of Disbursements tally over $146.260 (and that’s just through June 30 2022) … how much of that postage is related to the KAP Franked “mini-masterpieces” is unknown … but that is a significant amount of discretionary spending that Congressman Stauber has approved.
Funny thing is that some taxpayers may be paying more … for example on Stauber’s “Education Mailer” (December 9 2021), there is a survey asking questions (“Are you opposed to a vaccine mandates?“) which he asks respondents to mail-in using their own postage stamp. Gosh, would you like to know how many people responded to the survey and how many hours it took to tabulate the results since taxpayers are paying somebody to do that also. Wouldn’t ya like to know how many of these mailers were sent — to every home in the district? Or to selected group of voters?
Is it just a coincidence that Congressman Stauber sent our a mailer on border security on August 8th just four days after Republican Congressman Mike Bost sent out a mailer on border security … and both paid KAP Franked for their services ? Is KAP Franked pushing issues that KAP Strategies wants highlighted … or did the two Congressmen individually hear concerns from their constituents and contacted KAP Franked to provide their services ?
Besides using KAP Franked, Representative Stauber also paid $5,025 to The Lukens Group … The Lukens Group also operates TLC Political which is “an award-winning marketing agency providing data-driven strategies for Republican candidates”. Shouldn’t taxpayers know what they did for the Eighth District ?
Taxpayers also paid for radio time … for example, $2,214 to De La Hunt Broadcasting …. and for his Tele-Town Hall meetings over $12,000 … and for “advertising” as there were two payments to Stauber’s Chief of Staff Desiree Koetzle coded as “Advertising” tallying $4,500 … and there were two payments to Main Street Media Group totaling $15,015.
Reviewing the disbursements reports should make voters ask about two payments to Ballard Spahr LLC, a national law firm, totaling $12,800. What strategic advice did Representative Stauber require … that congressional staff lawyers could not provide ?
Lotsa taxpayer dollars being authorized by Congressman Stauber poses two questions : First, do we really need to know that Pete Stauber’s media consultants think that it is important that “Congressman Pete Stauber is working on behalf of Virginia” ? Second, has he asked for competitive bids to ensure that taxpayers are not paying a premium to use Republican-aligned companies ?
These would be great questions to ask Representative Stauber and his challenger Jen Schultz at their debate (assuming one happens).