According to the law, as officially written, California lawmakers are not supposed to spend tax dollars on campaign mailings. But they are allowed to use tax dollars to communicate with constituents. And that is the loophole that some of them use in an attempt to stay in office.

According to an Associated Press exclusive report, Assembly members spent $3.2 million dollars in 2016 sending mail pieces to constituents. In contrast, members of the Senate spent only $230,000 for postage in 2016.

One reason for the disparity: There were Assembly members involved in highly contested races, either for their own seats or for seats in Congress. Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, in fact, sent out more than 200,000 pieces of mail last winter.

The AP’s Sophia Bollag wrote, “One letter invited women to self-defense classes, another highlighted a bird-watching event, and a third promoted a tree adoption day.

“The mailings, all sent in a two-week period, cost $62,000 and taxpayers foot the bill. …”

The tactic worked. Gomez, a Democrat, won that election and a June run-off to capture the congressional seat formerly held by Xavier Becerra, who is now California’s attorney general.

You can read the AP’s full investigation here.

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