An email sent by U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., may violate federal law and House Rules.
The email from Bachmann’s press secretary, Heidi Frederickson, was published on the weblog Dump Michele Bachmann. It had been sent from Frederickson’s government account.
The email told constituents that “Michele has been the focus of lots of media lately and most of it not friendly.” The letter went on to ask constituents to “take just a moment of your time to write 50–100 words about why your support Michele,” adding that the congresswoman “would appreciate seeing that in the paper.”
The communication may violate both federal law and House rules regarding the use of congressional resources for campaigning. According to House ethics rules, emails are subject to the same restrictions as other mailings using a representative’s franking privileges. House guidelines specifically state that franking is not to be used for “grassroots lobbying or soliciting support for a Member’s position on a legislative, public policy, or community issue.”
The federal law dealing with franking privileges also suggests that Frederickson’s email may have run afoul of the law. Section 3210(a)(5)(C) of the U.S. Code bars the use of congressional resources for any communication that “specifically solicits political support for the sender or any other person or any political party, or a vote or financial assistance for any candidate for any public office.”