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A frank discussion about franking

To the editor:

As a contractor for a handful of Federal agencies, I can say that securing contracts with the Federal government can be time-consuming and tedious. Days and weeks of effort to bid on projects, with no guarantee of securing a dime in revenue. And as a small company located in a small town here in Congressional District 1, I am forced to compete against companies that can be hundreds of times my size. Companies who are also, by some stretch of the imagination, designated as “small businesses” by the Federal government. I’ve spoken with members of Congress about this in the past. How “small” businesses in certain industries are bigger than hundreds of entire towns here on the prairie. How I wish the Small Business Administration would break the definition of “small businesses” up into at least three categories (small, micro, and nano), to give more of us “nanos” (probably at least three-fourths of small businesses in America) more of a fighting chance.

But that’s not why I am writing. I am writing because of the effort I am required to take to make sure that I do things by the book. To have a chance of securing contracts for our company. It takes several times the time and effort to try and secure work with .gov and .mil clients. This is why it was so frustrating to read how the company owned by the brother of Congressman Jim Hagedorn’s now-former Chief of Staff, Peter Su, received over $350,000 in payments for mailings by Hagedorn’s office. While John Sample, another part-time employee in Hagedorn’s professional office, had the company he co-founded receive $110,000 in payments connected to Hagedorn’s office and/or campaign. Skirting many of the rules that are in place to make sure that it is more than “who you know” when it comes to competing for Federal contracts.

Of course, Hagedorn’s lawyers will swoop in, saying that even though things waddle like a duck, look like a duck, and quack like a duck, folks can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it’s a duck. So while lawyers keep the House Ethics Committee from throwing the book at Hagedorn, I might raise one other unrelated point. In the audio recording that Peter Su, Hagedorn’s former Chief of Staff, released, Hagedorn is quoted as saying that he wanted the mail pieces which are a part of the scandal to go to “every damn household down there.” The words “down there” leaped off the page to me. Down where? Of course, Hagedorn is referring to Congressional District 1. Since when he is not in Washington D.C., where he has lived almost entirely since at least the Carter or Reagan Administrations, he currently calls Congressional District 1 home in Minnesota. And why Republicans choose to back a candidate who hasn’t actually lived in our Congressional District since long before he took office in 2019 I have no idea.

Derek Tonn

Springfield

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