I got this in the mail today:
Notice that it's from Justin Amash. It lists his name and that he's currently State Representative.
Nothing wrong with that, you might think. State and federal lawmakers send these kinds of things to their constituents all the time. There probably would be nothing wrong with it had he not been running for anything this fall, or if he had lost the primary earlier on. If my state senator, Bill Hardiman, had sent it, I would not be making an issue out of it since he will not appear on this fall's ballot.
Except that there is something wrong with what Amash sent. He is the Republican nominee for Congress, we have just three weeks until the election, and people are voting absentee now. It's very difficult to believe that this mailer was not intended to benefit his campaign - to get people to believe that he wants them to be informed. Never mind that the ballot language is exactly the same as what voters will see on the ballot this fall. There's nothing that clarifies anything, or provides background, or does anything else besides repeating what the ballot will say anyway.
According to Michigan Compiled Law 169.247, emphasis mine:
(1) Except as otherwise provided in this subsection and subject to subsections (3) and (4), a billboard, placard, poster, pamphlet, or other printed matter having reference to an election, a candidate, or a ballot question, shall bear upon it the name and address of the person paying for the matter.
Well, it definitely has reference to an election! What it doesn't have is the required disclaimer.
A big issue here is how it was paid for. Was it paid for by the campaign? If so, it does not have the required disclaimer. Was it paid for by his State House office? If so, an argument could be made that he's using taxpayer dollars for campaign purposes - a BIG no-no. (Also, if it was from his State House office, one could make the political argument to the voters that he does not care about fiscal responsibility. But that's another matter altogether!)
I should note that we also received a perfectly legal campaign mailer from Amash today. Now, the fact that I received both items on the same day does not mean that they were sent at the same time or that they were meant to be delivered on the same day. But that could raise a few questions too.
UPDATE: I have heard from several sources that this perfectly legal. Fair enough. But still, it raises the question: Why is Amash wasting OUR tax dollars printing and mailing something that contains little more than the ballot questions as they will be worded on the ballot anyway?