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Posted by on Jul 24, 2009 in Politics | 33 comments

The Franking Commission Digs Own Grave

When exactly did the Franking Commission become part of the Democratic Party? Somehow, though the tradition of “franking” dates back to the English House of Commons, I don’t think very many people saw this coming. First they shut down the mailing of a graphic with a flow chart about health care on it, and now Rep. John Carter of Texas has been informed that he can’t record a telephone town hall introduction message with the awful, America endangering phrase, “government run health care program” on it.

Rep. John Carter (R-Texas), the secretary of the House Republican Conference and a former District Court Judge, is having his messages to constituents censored by Democrats on the Franking Commission. Republicans are no longer allowed to use the words “government run health care” in the communications to their constituents.

Carter received an email from the Franking Commission informing him of the censorship.

“What we proposed as language was as follows, ‘House Democrats unveiled a government-run health care plan,’” Carter said. “Our response from Franking was, ‘You cannot use that language. You must use, ‘The House majority unveiled a public option health care plan,’ which is Pelosi-speak or ‘just last week the House majority unveiled a health care plan which I believe will cost taxpayers…’”

I know we have a number of regular readers who have sympathies that lie with the Democrats, but can you honestly read that and not start to get a creepy feeling running up your spine? The Franking Commission is now going to censor communication between the members and their constituents based on nothing more than how the representative characterizes a particular proposal?

Let’s see what they’re really supposed to be doing under their charter, shall we?

Pursuant to Public Law 93-191, the bipartisan Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards or the “Franking Commission” has a three fold mandate: (1) to issue regulations governing the proper use of the franking privilege; (2) to provide guidance in connection with mailings; (3) to act as a quasi-judicial body for the disposition of formal complaints against Members of Congress who have allegedly violated franking laws or regulations.

Back in the early days of the Iraq war, I very specifically remember getting mailers from my Congressman talking about “The Invasion and Occupation of Iraq.” I heartily agreed with the description, by the way but even I recognized that it drove the Republicans up the wall and they spent a lot of time and money working to fight that characterization and spin things their way. One thing they didn’t do was try to stop the member from mailing his own views on an important issue of the day to the people he represented.

I don’t really know what more to say. I don’t know if there’s even a process of appeal on obviously partisan decisions by this supposedly bi-partisan, independent body. But there certainly should be if there’s not.