CHARLESTON, W. Va. — West Virginia Republicans are accusing state House Democrats of abusing their mailing privileges and taxpayer money.
State politicians have the ability to send mail to their constituents using taxpayer money with the premise it not be used for personal, political gains. The purpose is to harbor an environment of open communication between the statehouse and the people. However, after analyzing the mailings leading up to the recent primary election, the GOP is crying foul.
“We have the state Democrat party providing lists of frequent voters leading up to an election and those frequent voters were the only ones who received the campaign literature,” Conrad Lucas, West Virginia Republican Party Chairman said while a guest on Tuesday’s MetroNews Talkline. “Let’s say, in some of these cases, where folks had contested primaries, they only mailed to Democrats.”
One House Democrat, Delegate Don Perdue, refuted the claim on the program when he said his personal letter was sent in the original spirit of the rule.
“My letter was sent to emphasize the successes by collaboration. I think I used the personal pronoun ‘I’ in it once and I certainly didn’t send a picture. I’ve seen myself.”
After a regular legislative session laden with issues, some criticized the group as a “do-nothing House.” Perdue said he wished to remind voters both sides of the isle worked together to tackle as many problems as they could.
When addressing the charge of only sending these letters to known frequent voters, it came down to targeting the demographic the message would most likely reach.
“Those are the people who are most engaged,” Perdue said. “They’re the ones that are most likely to pay attention and to be conversant enough with the issues to appreciate being delivered some communication on them.”
However, Lucas believed the Democrats crossed the line this year in order to block a Republican takeover of the House in the upcoming election.
“There’s a huge difference between regular constituent correspondence and updating constituents and then, in this situation, where you’re only targeting voters in weeks leading up to a primary election with lists prepared by a political entity.”
Perdue maintained there was no wrongdoing and said Republicans are grandstanding in order to gain an edge in the election.
“If Mr. Lucas would have his way, we don’t communicate at all,” he said. “It is a fine line, there’s no question, but by the same token, it just depends upon the message.”