Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 2:10 p.m.
There isn't any evidence to prove that Rep. Connie Mack intentionally used $18,000 in taxpayer money to send political postcards all over the state, but there isn't anything about the situation that makes Mack look good.
If you haven't heard about it already, all the recent hullabaloo is over 90,000 mailers that Mack sent out earlier this week using federal funds. It's technically kosher if he keeps the mailings within his district. The Tampa Bay Times found out he didn't
While Mack's district is in southwest Florida, the cards have reportedly begun showing up at homes in Hillsborough County, Miami Beach, and Sarasota, which violates the number-one rule of "franked mail" -- if you're a politician getting free mail services, you have to send the mail for informational purposes to your constituents. Instead, the Times reported, 64 percent of them went outside of his district, and it wasn't all that informational. Mack blamed the misrouting on the company that put the mailing list together.
Expect more from the Pulp on those points tomorrow -- today we've got comment from a news conference from George LeMieux, Mack's challenger in the Republican primary. And he's not happy.
LeMieux called the incident "a coordinated campaign effort to use a taxpayer-funded mailing" and called for Mack to pay the $18,000 that was returned to the U.S. Treasury by the company he blamed. He said the "Penny Plan" was the "hallmark of his campaign" and that the mailer "very much looks like a campaign piece."
"The idea of this being a mistake is hard to believe," he said. "The list for franked mail should be coming from the congressman and the congressman's office... That information is plainly available from supervisors of elections."
In addition to a message left yesterday, I called again Thursday afternoon to get a response from the Mack camp but haven't heard back; will update promptly if I do.