Monday, September 22, 2008

Who Pays?

A fascinating case has entered the state court system.

A Lackawanna County man is suing his state representative. The issue is a series of "official" mailings from the representative.

The constituent claims the mailings are nothing more than campaign literature, poorly disguised as something "official" because the representative is up for re-election. He wants the representative to pay back the state for the cost of the literature and the postage.

We've all received mailings like that. They're common on the federal and state levels. Mine go in the trash because they're usually nothing more than exercises in self aggrandizement.

The issue is where does "official" and important information end, and politicking begin? It reminds me of what Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said about hard core pornography. Stewart opined that porn was hard to define, but "I know it when I see it." Commonwealth Court faces a similar issue when Wednesday's hearing comes around.

We may see the issue kicked back to the legislature to establish a set of standards for mailings, but you know how good that bunch is about policing themselves. Ethics? Maybe for you and I, but not them.

The right thing would be to take the issue off the table once and for all. End useless mailings and potential abuse of the system.