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The next time Alex Mooney rails against government spending, his constituents should ask the congressman about this:

Voters in the 2nd Congressional District, who are “represented” by Mooney, recently got a couple of slick advertisements in the mail. People may have thought they were campaign advertisements, paid for by Mooney’s re-election campaign. That’s certainly what they look like.

But no, those direct mailings were paid for with your tax dollars. Using public money for such mailings, a process called “franking,” was intended to help elected representatives keep the people informed. It has long been controversial because some members of Congress — like Mooney — abuse the privilege and use it to send out what amounts to campaign literature.

Members of Congress are banned from sending out such mail within 90 days of an election — so the missives that Mooney’s constituents got were mailed out pretty much as close to the election as he could legally do it.

And Mooney does love to send out mail at taxpayers’ expense. It’s not yet clear how much these most recent advertisements cost, but from July to September of last year (the most recent information available), Mooney spent more than $30,100 of taxpayer money sending out mail about himself. For the first nine months of 2017, he spent more than $86,600, according to the U.S. House of Representatives.

(His West Virginia colleagues in the U.S. House spent much less. Evan Jenkins spent more than $2,400 for the July-September quarter and more than $10,200 for the first nine months of the year, while David McKinley spent about $1,150 for the quarter and just more than $2,100 over nine months.)

But wait, you say: Maybe Alex Mooney really had some good, important information to tell people?

The most recent Mooney mailer touts what he claims are his efforts to protect Social Security and Medicare. He does this by trumpeting his sponsorship of two bills — neither of which is anywhere close to becoming law.

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It is difficult to fathom how Mooney’s constituents benefit from learning about two bills that have not become law and show no signs of doing so, and that Mooney apparently had little to do with, other than agreeing to sign his name to them.

And while Mooney uses this misdirection to claim he’s protecting Medicare, President Donald Trump — whom Mooney sucks up to at every opportunity, ever since Trump defeated Mooney’s preferred presidential candidate — just released a budget proposal that calls for Medicare cuts of more than half-a-trillion (with a T) dollars.

If you are waiting for Mooney to stand up to the president and argue against those proposed Medicare cuts, you will have a very long wait.

Perhaps the most ludicrous part: In large letters on his mailer, Mooney is quoted as saying, “In Congress, I’m making sure the benefits you worked so hard to earn are not threatened by Washington incompetence.”

Is it possible that Mooney doesn’t even know where he works? What other explanation can there be for him to rail against “Washington incompetence” when he himself has been in Washington for the past three years, and his Republican Party has had control of Congress and the White House for more than a year?

“Washington incompetence” needs to take a look in the mirror.

Really, the only useful information on Mooney’s advertisement are the phone numbers for his offices: 304-925-5964 in Charleston, 304-264-8810 in Martinsburg, and 202-225-2711 in Washington.

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