A taxpayer-funded mailer from U.S. Rep. Robert Dold touting job fairs he has hosted is hitting homes in the 10th Congressional District this week while striking a nerve with Dold's Democratic rival.
Members of Congress are prohibited from sending out public mailings with 500 or more pieces during a 90-day window leading up to an election.
But Dold's piece, which cost less than $250, falls under an exemption in congressional franking rules because it went out to 499 or fewer homes in his north suburban district.
"This doesn't raise any red flags on our end," said Steve Dutton, a spokesman for the House Franking Commission, whose members include Dutton's boss, U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.).
Still, Democrat Brad Schneider's congressional campaign is crying foul, saying it's improper for the Kenilworth Republican to send out the taxpayer-funded mailing alongside campaign mailers so close to the election.
"It's reprehensible that Congressman Dold is spending taxpayer money for a thinly disguised attempt at boosting his campaign. People are frustrated, and with good reason, by the way things are done in Washington, and having their representative take advantage of a congressional privilege to send taxpayer-funded mailers a week before the election simply reinforces the fact that Washington is broken," Schneider said in a prepared statement.
"Congressman Dold wants to stay in Washington, and it seems he's willing to use our tax dollars to do it," he said.
Dutton forwarded questions about the exact size and cost of Dold's mailing to the Republican's congressional campaign.
Dold spokesman John McGovern said the mailing did, in fact, go out to no more than 499 homes in the district and belittled Schneider's campaign for making it into an issue, particularly considering it cost less than $250.
"A congressman doesn't stop representing constituents just because it's election season, and Congressman Dold will continue to help people in the 10th District find jobs in this tough economy," McGovern said.
"Unemployment is a real problem, but apparently Brad Schneider doesn't think creating jobs is as important as making cheap political attacks," he said. "This is really a story?"