Sixth District Congressman Andy Barr says he supports the 1st Amendment… but does he really?
Two weeks ago, Barr signed on as one of the chief co-sponsors of a new bill “reaffirming the commitment” of Congress to the First Amendment and its vital freedom of speech protections. Andy Barr spends a lot of time and energy, and as it turns out, taxpayer money insisting to voters of Kentucky’s 6th District that he’s working hard for them in Washington DC, but this type of frivolous legislation proves otherwise.
Fourteen days after it was introduced just 31 other members of Congress have signed on to support Andy Barr’s laughable 1st Amendment “affirmation” bill – and not one of the other representatives from the Great Commonwealth of Kentucky has joined him.
Barr’s bill is not the work of a serious Congressional Representative. It’s the kind of pandering “lawmaking” that’s straight out of the Ted Cruz and Michelle Bachman playbook. It’s a joke. And yet, this is what Andy Barr’s busy doing up in Washington.
The 1st Amendment isn’t really under attack. Or… if it is, the one attacking it is Andy Barr.
In the sort of supreme satire that’s come to define Andy Barr’s time as central Kentucky’s congressman (recall his “Earth Day” message), earlier this week the self-declared Constitutional scholar attacked the Lexington Herald-Leader, alleging that the McClatchy news organization is publishing articles penned by Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi under the bylines of complicit journalists.
The Herald-Leader’s distortion of my office spending is just the type of negative, political, business-as-usual attack by Washington Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama I am fighting to change.
What is this vicious collusion Barr has uncovered? What proof does this sitting Congressman have that our media is state-controlled? What terrible lies did the Lexington Herald-Pravda print?
Well, it turns out, Garland H. Barr IV has got Duckheads all in a bunch over a news article published by a journalist in what the Founding Fathers called in that ol’ 1st Amendment the “free press.”
Apparently, Andy Barr has a problem with the free press. Perhaps he should reaffirm his commitment to it.
The Herald Leader’s Matt Young had published an in-depth report on Andy Barr’s use of taxpayer money to campaign style mailers and conduct campaign style telephone town hall meetings. In just 15 months in office, the supposedly fiscally conservative Andy Barr spent over $190,000 in taxpayer money.
Barr wasted more taxpayer money on this activity — known in DC as “franking” — than 411 other members of Congress. As the Herald Leader reported, Barr’s 15 month total was more than 10 times the amount Rep. Brett Guthrie spent on the same taxpayer funded activity, and Guthrie had the second highest tally in the Commonwealth. Barr waste of Kentucky’s tax dollars was colossal.
Andy Barr, of course, didn’t like this report because it revealed a greater truth about the Congressman. Barr responded in a letter to the paper and a note posted online by claiming that this “Herald Leader distortion” was not an act of original reporting but instead “is just the type of negative, political, business-as-usual attack by Washington Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama.”
That’s right. Matt Young, the Lexington Herald-Leader and the McClatchy news organization had explicitly colluded with the White House to smear, distort and attack poor ol’ Garland H. Barr IV.
Except that, as Matt Young clearly wrote, this report was the result of an exhaustive and original Herald-Leader analysis of the Congressional public record:
Overall, a Herald-Leader analysis found that Barr’s spending on franked communications, in which members of Congress use their signature as postage or to authorize electronic contacts, ranks him 26th among 437 representatives in the U.S. House for which data was available from January 2013 to March 2014. Barr has used taxpayer money to reach constituents more than 9 million times since taking office, which is nearly 15 times more than any other Kentucky congressman.
Rather than respond to the substance of the Herald Leader’s report, Congressman Andy Barr attacked the messenger — in this case, the 1st Amendment-protected free press — and claimed that the paper had directly published a coordinated attack put together by his political enemies. That’s not just Michelle Bachman territory, that’s some pure Richard Nixon paranoia.
Pro Tip: Don’t piss off journalists. If you attack their trade, they will come after you with more investigations. Like librarians and hornets, you should think twice before angering them.
And that’s not all! After the Congressman hilariously attacked journalists, journalism, and the free press Andy then doubled down on his taxpayer funded franking!
First he posted a series of photos to Facebook to demonstrate that his taxpayer funded campaign materials were not really campaign materials — in the process, clearly demonstrating that his mailers are in fact taxpayer funded campaign materials!
The example mailer Barr posted above includes a series of loaded questions, worded to push voters toward Andy’s own Tea Party point of view. Andy wants to repeal Kynect and kick the 400,000 people who now have insurance thanks to the state’s marketplace back off it… rip that insurance card up and send them back to the ranks of the uninsured. His loaded questions on Obamacare try to lead you to that heartless point of view, delivering zero facts with zero substance and offering zero chance to make an informed decision. On the “debt ceiling” Barr’s question is worded in such a way that you’d think his vote to keep the government shut down last October was a principled stand rather than a reckless move that was far out of touch with even most mainstream Republicans, to say nothing of independent voters.
Two weeks ago, Andy Barr’s opponent in this November’s election, Elisabeth Jensen, challenged Barr to join her in pledging to reject wasteful congressional perks — one of which was the abuse of campaign-style communications at taxpayer expense.
Yesterday, voters across the 6th District received in their mailboxes yet another taxpayer funded campaign style push-mailer from Andy Barr. Barr’s latest piece of campaign material at taxpayer expense featured a series of questions asking voters/”constituents” if they were for or against a set of bills that he’s already introduced, as if your answer might make some difference:
The point, of course, of this latest waste of taxpayer money is for Congressman Barr to tell you on behalf of the Barr Re-Election Campaign that Andy Barr is doing stuff in Washington. It’s insulting enough that he’s spent nearly $200,000 on communications just like this, far more than almost every other member of Congress, but it’s even more insulting that he’s asking your opinion and doesn’t care what it is.
If this wasn’t actually a campaign style mailer and it was really a survey of constituent opinion by which to guide his actions, then why is he only asking for your opinion after the fact?
Barr has already introduced these bills. If enough constituents bothered to take the time to rill this out and send it back to Andy with the answer “No” — what would Andy do? It’s not like he’s going to change his mind and remove the legislation he’s already introduced. The ship has sailed — and like your tax dollars spent on this campaign mailer, there’s no getting it back.
And as one final Andy Barr punch to the face of 6th District voters, the campaign style mailer that your tax dollars paid for doesn’t come with return postage. That’s right! If you actually want Andy to hear your answers to the questionnaire you paid for then you have to pay again to send it back to him:
— TheCampaignHQ (@TheCampaignHQ) July 23, 2014
Andy Barr is wasting taxpayer money at an egregious rate, using your money that could be better spent on… really, pretty much anything, to run for re-election. When questioned about this spending, Andy’s response is to proclaim that the local paper is controlled by his political enemies. And then he doubles down and sends out yet another campaign style mailer.
Andy Barr’s not stupid. But apparently, he thinks you are.