Bachmann: Does Her Email Violate Federal Law?
Yo, check dis out. I wrote it, doesn't it sound like a real reporter? But it's all true:
Rep. Bachmann’s attempt to stage “grass roots support” may violate law
by William Prendergast, currently unemployed journalist.
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota (MN-06) has been circulating an email to her supporters in an attempt to stage manage a “grass roots” demonstration of support on the Letters to the Editors pages of local newspapers. (text of email follows below.)
Bachmann’s press secretary launched the campaign in an attempt to counter media coverage critical of her behavior during her first two months in office. In February Bachmann drew national criticism when she announced a non-existent plan to partition Iraq with Iran and create a new “terrorist safe haven” nation. In January Bachmann was the subject of national attention when she put her hand on the President and refused to take it off until he gave her a kiss. This month the Pioneer Press, the major daily newspaper in St. Paul, published an editorial critical of Bachmann’s behavior.
Bachmann’s recent attempt at damage control may violate federal law. Jeff Fecke of the Minnesota Monitor blog writes:
“The communication may violate both federal law and House rules regarding the use of congressional resources for campaigning. According to House ethics rules, emails are subject to the same restrictions as other mailings using a representative's franking privileges. House guidelines specifically state that franking is not to be used for "grassroots lobbying or soliciting support for a Member's position on a legislative, public policy, or community issue."
The federal law dealing with franking privileges also suggests that Frederickson's email may have run afoul of the law. Section 3210(a)(5)(C) of the U.S. Code bars the use of congressional resources for any communication that "specifically solicits political support for the sender or any other person or any political party, or a vote or financial assistance for any candidate for any public office."
(source: http://www.minnesotamonitor.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=1440 )
Here is the text of the email sent by Bachmann’s press secretary, Heidi Frederickson:
Subject: Possible letter to the editor on behalf of Michele Bachmann
Date: Wed, 7 Mar 2007 17:42:08 -0500
I got your name as someone who might be willing to send a letter to the editor on behalf of Michele Bachmann. If that is incorrect, please let me know and I won't contact you again.
As you may have seen, Michele has been the focus of lots of media lately and most of it not friendly. We want to make sure that the media and others reading the paper get a balanced view of Michele Bachmann. Therefore, if you could take just a moment of your time to write 50 -100 words about why your support Michele that would be fantastic and I know how much she would appreciate seeing that in the paper. Below are a couple of suggestions and links to different editors. If you have any questions for me, either on information or looking for a paper's contact info please let me know.
1) Talk about Michele as a mother (5 biological, 23 foster kids) and wife. Her devotion to her family and making Minnesota a better place.
2) Her strong fiscal conservative roots. She is a sponsor of the Line-item veto and the balanced budget amendment.
3) Her first piece of legislation is the Health Care Freedom of Choice Bill that would make all medical expenses and insurance premiums tax deductible for individuals - why haven't the press reported on that.
4) Her continued commitment to the men and women of our military and not playing politics with the war on terrorism.
5) Any other topic that will share the real Michele Bachmann with other Minnesotans who don't know her personally.
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
St. Cloud Times
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Elk River Star
Again, I'm more than happy to help in any way that I can - just let me know.
P.S. Remember little local papers are perfect and widely read - if you need contact information for a rural paper in the district just ask!
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann
(source: http://dumpbachmann.blogspot.com/2007/03/bachmann-doing-fine-in-washingtonyeah.html )