Same shade of Broun

We've said before that we've never seen a politician more committed to self-promotion than Paul Broun.

Now we can say with authority that he's committed to a fault.

Georgia's 10th District congressman, it appears, has busted his district budget in his tireless effort to get his name and face and voice out to constituents.

Broun has spent nearly his entire budget for 2008 in the first half of the year, and may have to reduce staff or drastically cut other expenses, according to Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call .

"Mr. Broun is about to run out of money to staff and operate his offices in Washington, Athens, Augusta and Toccoa," says a report from the Athens Banner-Herald .

Broun blew half of his $1.38 million budget on the ever-present letters, phone calls and mailings to 607,000 voters in the district -- a full dozen letters and fliers before April.

Broun spent more on such things than any of the other 434 members of Congress, according to The Politico .

Broun's spokespeople insist the office is within budget, and that all the mailings were kosher, since they passed the scrutiny of a bipartisan commission that reviews tax-paid congressional mailings.

Well, there you go: a seal of approval from a Congress that has a 9-percent favorable rating among voters, and which this year alone will overspend the federal budget by about $400 billion.

The investment houses aren't the only financial failures going.

When his challenger in the July 15 primary, Barry Fleming, took note of Broun's past financial problems in his personal life -- including bankruptcy and failure to pay taxes -- some voters instinctively defended Broun. They said that was in the past, and that his personal life is no guide for his professional performance.

They must wonder now.

Or, at least, perhaps they should.

If Roll Call and The Politico are correct -- and they are close observers of our senators and representatives in Washington -- then Broun's "brand" of arch-conservative budget hawk isn't worth the taxpayer-paid mailing it's printed on.

As the Athens paper noted, "Is it affordable?" is Broun's supposed litmus test for voting on bills before Congress.

He should ask the same about his office's bills.

The Broun experience is a sign that Congress' so-called "franking" privileges -- using our money to promote their own career advancement and to protect their eternal incumbency -- needs to be given a serious look. Why, in this day and age, does a congressman need our money to promote himself in the name of "informing the people"? Constituents can be informed via Web sites and e-mails and news stories. And few people are shy about picking up a phone and calling if they have a question or complaint.

This waste of taxpayer money on a congressman's self-perpetuation tour also is a stark reminder of the growing need for term limits. We need to do away with career politicians -- and after one expensive year in Congress and several other runs for office, Broun already is one of them.

"Franking" is considered a privilege that can be taken away.

So is membership in Congress.

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