GOP candidate criticizes Demo Rep. mailingPIERRE, S.D. (AP) — Republican congressional candidate Blake Curd criticized Democratic Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin on Wednesday for sending what he called campaign-style material to South Dakotans at taxpayer expense.
By: Chet Brokaw, The Associated Press
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — Republican congressional candidate Blake Curd criticized Democratic Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin on Wednesday for sending what he called campaign-style material to South Dakotans at taxpayer expense.
Curd is one of two Republicans running for Herseth Sandlin’s seat.
Herseth Sandlin’s congressional office recently sent out a brochure dealing with veterans’ issues that was no more than a campaign mailing, said Curd, a member of the state House of Representatives.
“I think that’s a clear indication of what’s wrong in Washington,” Curd told reporters at a news conference.
Curd said if he is elected to South Dakota’s only seat in the U.S. House, he would not send “unsolicited campaign-style mail pieces” at taxpayers’ expense.
Curd also criticized Herseth Sandlin’s office for asking the state Game, Fish and Parks Commission for a list of licensed hunters and anglers for free or at a reduced cost.
A spokeswoman for Herseth Sandlin said Curd’s allegations were misleading or untrue.
“This is a baseless political attack designed to mislead voters. South Dakotans deserve better from their elected representatives and political candidates than invented controversies based on false information,” said Betsy Hart, press secretary for Herseth Sandlin’s congressional office.
Members of Congress have a franking privilege that allows them to make unsolicited mass mailings to constituents at taxpayers’ expense. Such mailings are supposed to deal with matters of public concern and cannot involve political campaigns.
Curd, a surgeon, faces Secretary of State Chris Nelson in the June primary that will determine the Republican Party’s congressional candidate in the fall election.
While the amount spent on free mail may appear small compared to the nation’s huge budget deficit, it still represents money that could be spent on better things, Curd said.
He also objected to a mailing sent to veterans in which Herseth Sandlin said she has supported increased funding for veterans’ health care, a pay raise for military personnel and improvement of education benefits for those who have served in the military.
Curd also said state Game, Fish and Parks rules would require most people to pay $100 for each 1,000 names on the list of those who have hunting and fishing licenses. He claimed Herseth Sandlin asked for the list worth $15,000 for free.
But Hart said Herseth Sandlin never requested the list for free. Game, Fish and Parks Department officials encouraged her congressional office to ask for the reduced fee — $100 for the whole list — available to government agencies and some other organizations, she said.
“We asked for access to the list to improve our ability to connect with South Dakotans interested in outdoors issues. At no time did we suggest to anyone that we should get the list for free,” Hart said.
A Game, Fish and Parks official did not return a phone call seeking comment Wednesday.
Hart supplied a copy of the congressional office’s request for the list, which said it would be used to invite people to public meetings and give them legislative updates and wouldn’t be shared with Herseth Sandlin’s campaign.