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Friday, December 16, 2011

Example of misleading headline: Congressmen can't say 'Merry Christmas' in mail

From the headline you’d think this is an attack on Christianity and make a big deal out of it but a look at the article reveals a different story…read on:

Congressmen can't say 'Merry Christmas' in mail

byMark Tapscott Editorial Page Editor

Looks like the PC police have threatened members of the House of Representatives against wishing constituents a "Merry Christmas," if they want to do so in a mailing paid for with tax dollars.

Members who submit official mailings for review by the congressional franking commission that reviews all congressional mail to determine if it can be "franked," or paid for with tax dollars, are being told that no holiday greetings, including "Merry Christmas," can be sent in official mail.

"I called the commission to ask for clarification and was told no 'Merry Christmas.' Also told cannot say 'Happy New Year' but can say 'have a happy new year' – referencing the time period of a new year, but not the holiday," said a Hill staffer who requested anonymity.

Another Hill staffer told The Washington Examiner that "we were given that advice after submitting" a draft mailing.

Members of Congress send millions of dollars worth of mail to constituents every year but there are official rules that govern what can and cannot be said in those mailings. Members are barred, for example, from saying anything that might be construed as advocating their re-election.

But saying "Merry Christmas" is also not permitted, according to a Dec. 12 memo from the "Franking Commission Staff" concerning "Holiday Messaging." The memo explains:

Members are unable at the current time to use official resources to record holiday greetings, post on social media/website, or send to constituents in franked mail or e-communications.

Member’s Congressional Handbook: GREETINGS-

Expenses related to the purchase or distribution of greetings, including holiday celebrations, condolences, and congratulations for personal distinctions (wedding anniversaries, birthdays, etc.), are not reimbursable.”

Franking Manual:

4(a). Example of Nonfrankable Items
-Birthday, anniversary, wedding, birth, retirement or condolence messages and holiday greetings are prohibited.”

You may make reference to the season as a whole using language along the lines of 'Have a safe and happy holiday season.' It may only be incidental to the piece rather than the primary purpose of the communication."

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