CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State lawmakers are allowed to send informational mailings to constituents prior to elections as long as targeted mailing lists are not used within 60 days of elections, according to an advisory opinion the state Ethics Commission approved this week.
At issue was the practice called franking — the free mailing services available to elected officials that are paid for with taxpayer money — and whether targeting specific constituents with such informational letters is a violation of the state Ethics Act.
The full advisory opinion is available here.
In May, the state GOP alleged certain lawmakers sent frequent Democratic voters constituent mailings prior to the primary election and, because of that, crossed the line into campaign advertising.
With this week’s opinion from the Ethics Commission, legislators who want to send out letters or other mailings to specific constituents can do so within 60 days of elections as long as they personally pay for the production of and postage for those mailings.
Members of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives cannot use their franking privileges within 90 days of elections.