From an article by Scott Sleek in Common Cause Magazine (May/June):
Last year taxpayers picked up the tab for about $124 million in unsolicited mass mailings from members of Congress.
... Among last year's top franking spenders was Sen. Rudy Boschwitz (R-Minn.), running this year for a third term. His office sent out more than 11 million pieces of mail in 1989, costing $1.7 million. That's almost seven pieces per Minnesota household.
In a folksy newsletter sent last summer, Boschwitz invited constituents to visit his booth at the Minnesota State Fair and "try some root beer milk, or one of the other flavors we have, or just let me know what's on your mind. I'd love to chat." Boschwitz's staff says the newsletter was important because Minnesota is a big dairy state and the senator sits on the Agriculture Committee.
In a November newsletter ... Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) offered constituents a compelling reason to reelect a powerful incumbent. Under the heading, "What does 'House Republican Whip' mean?" he answered: "Being the Whip gives me the chance to take Sixth District concerns to the White House on a regular basis."
Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.), also up for election in November, spent $1.8 million on franked mail in his freshman year in office... . When Coats introduced a bill to cut wasteful congressional spending, he spent money on a mass mailing to announce it.
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who faces a tough challenge from Republican Rep. Tom Tauke this fall, spent almost $650,000 for franked mail in '89. Like Coats he sent out a newsletter praising his own parsimony: He announced his decision to return last year's pay raise because "we've all got to tighten our belts."