Advertisement

Pennsy lawmakers' TV ads financed by state's taxpayers

October 01, 2002|by BOB MAGINNIS

Fearing that their constituents don't read all mail they get, members of the Pennsylvania House have started using television to keep in touch with them.

But before you praise the lawmakers for their innovation, consider the fact that the spots are being paid for by the taxpayers - to the tune of $1.7 million this past summer alone. On this issue, we agree with Common Cause - there's a thin line between keeping one's constituents informed and self-promotion.

That's especially true in this case because officials of both parties told The Associated Press that the House members featured in the ads were those who were up for re-election. And furthermore, the ads were withdrawn only because the parties didn't want voters confusing them with the purely political ads they're running now.

Voters could be excused for their confusion, because some of the tax-paid ads feature House members talking about future roads projects designed to reduce traffic congestion, while others include testimonials from constituents about the good service they've gotten from individual members.

Advertisement

There's no doubt that the commercials draw more traffic to members' offices; that's what advertisements are supposed to do. But they also create the impression that receiving state services depends on going to the member who appear in these commercials.

Fortunately, one House member is willing to call his colleagues on their raid on the taxpayers' wallets. Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware, calls the practice "criminal" and has proposed that it be banned.

Vitali not only wants taxpayer-funded ads banned, but would also prohibit members from using outside telemarketers on their campaigns and from sending out taxpayer-funded bulk mail within 60 days of an election.

It's the right thing to do, Vitali said, but he doesn't foresee quick passage of his proposed ban. Too many members like the idea. Perhaps they would like it a little less if their constituents knew that they were paying the bill for making their incumbent representatives look good.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|