Republicans are denying they're giving up on taking back Jason Altmire's congressional seat, as the New York Times reported Saturday.
In a story about vulnerable Democrats in districts that voted for John McCain, the NYT's Jeff Zeleny wrote "a handful of Democrats in the 40 districts are no longer considered to be as vulnerable as Republicans had hoped, largely because their preferred candidates were defeated by more conservative candidates in primaries." Altmire was one of those he listed -- his GOP opponent Keith Rothfus defeated party-backed Mary Beth Buchanan for the party's endorsement.
The National Republican Congressional Committee denies that in a story by CQ/Roll Call today, noting for instance that Rothfus is among those vying for its "Young Guns" campaign funding. At any rate, Rothfus proved in the primary that he shouldn't be taken lightly, and he's continuing his attacks on Altmire. The latest is on his use of public dollars to send mail to his constituents, aka franking.
Rothfus's campaign says Altmire has issued at least three taxpayer-funded mailers in recent weeks, and argues they are political in content, rather than being about official government legislation and activities (which is permitted by law). “It is outrageous that in one of these taxpayer financed pieces of political mail, Congressman Altmire even has the gall to tout fiscal responsibility. These type of mailings are just plain wrong and Congressman Altmire should show leadership and reimburse the taxpayers for this misuse of public money,” Rothfus said in a statement.
Altmire's campaign spokesperson, Rachael Heisler, denied the charges, and noted every franked piece of mail is approved by a non-partisan franking commission anyway.
"Every office uses their funding differently. Congressman Altmire chooses to use some of it to communicate with his constituents about his work as their congressman. Congressman Altmire’s office has used their money so efficiently that they have returned more than $250,000 to the Treasury," she said.
Rothfus also notes that the $104,137 Altmire spent on franked postage in 2009 was the second-most overall of any of Pa's members of Congress. The number one franker statewide? Rothfus' fellow Pittsburgh-area Republican, Tim Murphy, who spent $159,519.