Democrat Amy Tresidder is calling on state Sen. Patty Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, to stop sending "political" mailers out at taxpayer expense.
"Campaigning off the backs of the taxpayer is wrong," Mrs. Tresidder said in a news release Monday. "They deserve more from an elected official and I would think and hope that Senator Ritchie is ashamed for the waste of tax dollars that she has displayed."
Graham Wise, Mrs. Ritchie's chief of staff, fired back in an email:
"Senator Ritchie regularly hears from constituents that they appreciate receiving this information. And just as she's worked to cut the cost of government in Albany, she's working to reduce the cost of distributing this information. She's on track to spend less than her predecessor (and that's after two postal rate hikes), and she's encouraging constituents to use other means, like email, to communicate at little or no cost to taxpayers."
Sending out mailers that tout your work as an incumbent legislator is a time-honored tradition. As is an opponent assailing that incumbent for doing so.
Republican Matt Doheny, for example, criticizes Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh for doing the same thing.
But Mrs. Ritchie has come under criticism by critics who say she turns self-promotion into an art form. She was quizzed by Mayor Jeff Graham, for example, on this very subject.
She said at the time that it was her way of reaching her constituents.
Mrs. Tresidder also questioned why the Ritchie office decided to put Mrs. Ritchie's picture with free packets of larvicide that were given out by county officials. In St. Lawrence County, officials there actually removed Ritchie material before handing it out, owing to concerns about politicization.
“The public is aware that the state provided these kits,” Mrs. Tresidder in her news release. “There is no reason for the taxpayers to foot the bill for cards bearing the Senator’s picture.”
But Mr. Wise, Mrs. Ritchie's chief of staff, didn't put much stock in the claims.
"Our opponent is taking a page from the downstate democrats' tired playbook, and complaining about the Senator's efforts to keep in touch with her constituents," Mr. Wise said.