CA15: Corbett blasts Swalwell on mail costs

Rep. Eric Swalwell “is working to buy his re-election with taxpayer funds,” his Democratic challenger, state Senator Ellen Corbett, claimed Friday.

Corbett provided an analysis of congressional office spending by Swalwell, D-Dublin, that shows he spent nearly $190,945.09 on taxpayer- funded informational mailers in 2013 – about four times more than the other nine Bay Area House members combined. The figures don’t include the first quarter of this year, in which Swalwell spent more on official mailers.

“This is an outrageous abuse and far, far in excess of anything Swalwell needed to do to provide useful services to the people he serves,” Corbett, D-San Leandro, said in a statement issued Friday. “Voters deserve a representative with a less cavalier attitude about how their tax dollars should be spent.”

Swalwell replied in an e-mailed statement Friday that since taking office, he has “received approximately 73,000 pieces of written mail, e-mail, and phone calls. Our office responds to every person who contacts us, often times with a written, mailed response.

“We have also sent our constituents letters asking for feedback on federal issues, alerting them to services that our office can provide, and informing them of upcoming town halls (we have hosted 14, the most of any Bay Area representative),” he said. “The investment in this correspondence has paid off: through our outreach, we have helped over 1,100 constituents with federal agencies, including returning nearly $1 million to in-district veterans, and saving or returning $100,000 to individuals owed money by Social Security, Medicare, or other agencies. I’m also proud that we did this within our allotted office budget.”

The third candidate in the 15th Congressional District race is Republican Hugh Bussell of Livermore.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Willis James

    I’m sorry but this type of charge has been used so often and for so long that it is likely to be placed into the circular file almost as quick as the first charge is read.
    Corbett is going to have to be way more creative in finding something that will gain traction. Same old, same old, is not going to shift the balance.
    Average viewer is only going to remember all that coverage Swalwell got on every news channel a few days ago, “inspecting” airport security.

    As I recall, a few weeks back, he appeared on KGO radio. Here, there, everywhere, he is getting more coverage. A real problem for Corbett.

  • Marga

    “Corbett provided an analysis of congressional office spending by
    Swalwell, D-Dublin, that shows he spent nearly $190,945.09 on taxpayer-
    funded informational mailers in 2013 – about four times more than the
    other nine Bay Area House members combined.”

    Wow! When you remember that one of those members is Mike Honda, who is in an even harder campaign, it becomes pretty clear just how corrupt what Swalwell is doing is.

    Will voters care? They might, if they know, but Corbett doesn’t have the money to let them know. In any case, it is a pretty contemptible thing to do and it will come back to bite Swalwell sooner or later. It’s not as if this is his first ethical gaffe either. It seems pretty clear “ethics” is not really a concept he gets.

  • Oh, give me strength, Marga!

    Not sure which is worse — that termed-out State Sen. Ellen Corbett still cannot offer a positive message to justify her candidacy and is the first in the race to go negative, OR that Corbett throws stones from a glass house with this baseless attack on Congressman Eric Swalwell.

    It’s an open, unreported secret that Corbett’s current District Director and one of her field representatives regularly attend POLITICAL EVENTS tied to her congressional campaign. Essentially, Corbett uses state taxpayer funds to buttress her flailing run for federal office.

    Also worth noting: according to the Secretary of State’s website, Ellen Corbett’s 2010 State Senate Account and her officeholder account made combined expenditures of more than $36,000.00 in 2013 — with almost $20,000.00 in the last six months of 2013 alone > http://cal-access.sos.ca.gov/Campaign/Committees/Detail.aspx?id=1294417&session=2013&view=expenditures + http://cal-access.sos.ca.gov/Campaign/Committees/Detail.aspx?id=1334132&session=2013&view=expenditures

    Perhaps, before criticizing Congressman Swalwell, Corbett should get her own state house in order.

  • Marga

    Deflecting, eh? It’s exactly what Mary Hayashi tried to do in her Chron endorsement interview. “Don’t look at the me, look at this other fluffy thing other people are doing”.

    Using taxpayers dollars to send campaign mailers is plain worng. I can’t believe there aren’t ethics rules against it, but there should be.

    But you are right that the general practice in politics is that you hire your campaign workers as staffers if you get elected, and staffers volunteer for your campaign. There are pitfalls with this, of course, and yet I recognize that the people who volunteer in a campaign are those most likely to be committed to the vision of the candidate and who would represent them best as staffers. It’s not just the fictional president Grant who needs his Cyrus as Chief of Staff.

    As for your other point, you’ll have to be more explicit as why anyone should care.

  • Elwood

    That’s just ridiculous!

    Has it occurred to you that he is the only new member of the Bay Area house members and has a far greater need to get his message out compared to a long time incumbent?

    “Corbett doesn’t have the money to let them know.” As I recall, she had hundreds of thousands of dollars in the bank. She needed to spend it to run for something, otherwise she’d have to get her snout out of the trough.

    Please point out what you consider to be his other “ethical gaffes.”

    Sometimes you make sense and sometimes you don’t Marga.

  • JohnW

    Frankingly speaking, who cares?

  • Marga

    Exactly. “Getting his message out” is campaigning. That’s the problem. It’s one thing to send a mailer to announce a town hall, another to tell voters how great you are.

    According to the last thing Josh wrote on this, Corbett had $200K vs. about over $900K that Swalwell has. If you consider that Khanna, the other person challenging an incumbent, has over $2M, you realize just how little $200K is.

    I wrote here about other of Swalwell’s ethical gaffes. For example, how he paid Democratic delegates to go to the Democratic Convention and vote for him.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    Ooh la la! Corbett has already lost the primary.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    Nice pun.

  • Elwood

    ” how he paid Democratic delegates to go to the Democratic Convention and vote for him.”

    You can document that of course.

  • Marga
  • Elwood

    That hardly constitutes documentation.

    Source, please?

  • Marga

    What, in your book, would constitute “documentation” if a video of Swalwell fundraising for the explicit purpose of giving money to delegates to go to the Convention and vote to endorse him doesn’t constitute it?

    You’re still waiting for documentation that the earth is round too?

  • Elwood

    You could just come out and say you don’t have any without the snark, but then you wouldn’t be you, would you?

  • Marga

    I provided you with documentation. If what you want is a some document signed in blood by Swalwell and a delegate, well, you’ll have to be explicit about it.

  • Elwood

    Just provide a source other than yourself. That shouldn’t be too difficult, should it?

  • Marga

    huh? The source I gave you is Swalwell himself. Are you suffering form a brain tumor, Elwood?

  • Elwood

    So, what’s unethical about that?

    Stay snarky, my friend!

  • Marga

    It’s unethical because the Democratic endorsement becomes a lie. Voters, perhaps naively but nonetheless, expect that the when the Democratic party endorses a candidate it does because he or she is the one that best represents the values of the party. When a candidate buys votes – by reimbursing delegates for their travel expenses -, the endorsement becomes meaningless, a lie. Buying votes corrupts the system and tarnishes the image of the party.

    Now, you might not consider that unethical. Ethics are a very personal thing. To me, democracy is so important that the selling and buying of votes, however indirectly or subtly, is unethical, as is the use of a public office to campaign. You clearly have different ethical standards as does Swalwell.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    I’m gonna donate a load of Forever stamps to Swalwell’s campaign just to remove any unseemly taint.

  • Marga

    Alas, you’d easily exceed the federal contributions limit without getting enough stamps to do even one mailing to voters.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    Hee Hee, Marga! I’ll bundle stamp donors; send fake stamps to Corbett camp. Anyway, Comrade Ellen is truly desperate if mailings are an “issue” in her race. Anyway, how’s Ellen’s email base? I haven’t received an email from her campaign in weeks.

  • Marga

    Well, it’s a tough fight under the best of circumstances. Swalwell has campaigned brilliantly so far. He has voted with the party leadership in all but a couple of matters. Corbett’s “progressive” ideology may be more sincere, but he doesn’t have much of a record she can attack.

    So if she can’t really attack his record (from the left, at least), the only thing left to attack are his ethics. And those attacks are more effective anyway. So I’m not surprised she’s doing it.

    Will it work? Who knows? I’m still surprised that Swalwell has not released poll results.

  • Elwood

    You and Corbett share a peculiar set of ethics.

    Grasping for straws?

  • Marga

    Alas, I think you are right that honesty and integrity are considered peculiar traits in politics. Sad thing.