Don’t expect a ‘Merry Christmas’ from your congressman [Opinion: The Arena]

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Capitol Christmas

We received the following message from Kentucky’s junior senator, Republican Rand Paul:      

"Kelley and I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  Best wishes to you and your family during this holiday season. Merry Christmas, Kentucky."

A Holiday Message From Sen. Rand Paul and Kelley Paul

We don’t know if this was sent at taxpayers’ expense, but the nice sentiment was well received.  We like the idea that our elected representatives take the time out of their busy schedules to acknowledge their constituents at Christmas time.

But don’t expect to hear anything like that message from one of our congressmen.  According to Mark Tapscott, over at The Washington Examiner, the PC police have threatened members of the House of Representatives against wishing constituents a "Merry Christmas," if they want to do so in a mailing paid for with tax dollars.

Merry Christmas Signature.gifMembers who submit official mailings for review by the congressional franking commission that reviews all congressional mail to determine if it can be "franked," or paid for with tax dollars, are being told that no holiday greetings, including "Merry Christmas," can be sent in official mail.

Apparently, a December 12 memo from the "Franking Commission Staff" concerning "Holiday Messaging," explains:

Obama Ornament.jpg"Members are unable at the current time to use official resources to record holiday greetings, post on social media/website, or send to constituents in franked mail or e-communications.

Member’s Congressional Handbook: GREETINGS-

Expenses related to the purchase or distribution of greetings, including holiday celebrations, condolences, and congratulations for personal distinctions (wedding anniversaries, birthdays, etc.), are not reimbursable.”

    Franking Manual:

    4(a). Example of Nonfrankable Items

    -Birthday, anniversary, wedding, birth, retirement or condolence messages and holiday greetings are prohibited.”

    You may make reference to the season as a whole using language along the lines of 'Have a safe and happy holiday season.' It may only be incidental to the piece rather than the primary purpose of the communication."

Obama-Scrooge_0.jpgObserves Tapscott:  “So it's true, the elected representatives of the nation that puts "In God We Trust" on its currency are not permitted to use the greeting that has likely been uttered by every living adult American at least once in their lifetimes.”

Fortunately, franking issues in the upper chamber of the congress are handled by the Senate Ethics Committee, whose simple regulation states:  "Senators may not use the frank to mail holiday cards. However, Senators may use officially related funds to mail holiday cards to constituents. Holiday cards to friends should be sent with personal funds, not using Senate facilities.”

So there you have it.  In the year 2011, in the country founded by a bunch of folks fleeing religious persecution, senators can wish you a “Merry Christmas,” and congressmen cannot.  God rest ye merry, gentlemen.

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Louisville.com's The Arena section features opinions from active participants in the city's politics. Their viewpoints are not those of Louisville.com (a website is an inanimate object and, as such, has no opinions).

 

About Thomas McAdam
At various times I have been a student, a soldier, a college Political Science teacher, a political campaign treasurer, and legal adviser to Louisville's Police Department and Board of Aldermen. I now practice law and share my political opinions with anyone who will listen.
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