Challengers Claim Rep Abused Free Mail Privileges

Rep. Dan Burton Sent Out Anti-Health Care Mailing

While they agree with his message, U.S. Rep. Dan Burton's Republican primary challengers claim the lawmaker is abusing his free mailing privileges by sending out what they call taxpayer-paid propaganda.

Voters in Fishers and other 5th District areas are currently receiving a brochure outlining Burton's position against President Barack Obama's health care reform.

GOP challengers Brose McVey and Luke Messer said they don't take issue with the message, but with Burton using his congressional mailing privileges to send out what they said are clearly campaign materials, 6News' Norman Cox reported.

"There is a fine line between educating voters and keeping touch with them, and sending out propaganda," McVey said. "But I can assure you that our voters aren't stupid. They know the difference as well."

An Arizona newspaper study ranked Burton as the fifth-biggest user of free congressional mail, sending out more than $190,000 worth of mail to constituents in 2007.

"I thought it was the most egregious example of abuse of franked mail I've ever seen. I mean, this looks like something that was put forward by his campaign," Messer said.

But Burton's press secretary, John Donnelly, said the congressman is simply reaching out to constituents.

"He's focused on doing his job. That means communicating his position to the Hoosiers he represents," he said. "He will continue to mail pieces as one way to communicate."

Donnelly said the mailing was approved by a bipartisan and congressional commission as being non-political.