Archive shows Chellie Pingree ran Facebook ads with federal taxpayer dollars

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D – Maine) gives a speech from a porch in the summer of 2019. Photo courtesy Congresswoman Chellie Pingree official Facebook page.

WASHINGTON D.C. – Rep. Jared Golden is not the only member of Congress from Maine that using federal tax dollars to run Facebook ads promoting themselves. Rep. Chellie Pingree, who represents Maine’s First Congressional District is also running ads paid for with federal tax dollars.

While not as expansive as her counterpart Rep. Jared Golden’s federally funded ads, Rep. Chellie Pingree ran three ads between January 28 and February 11, 2020. Those ads total $1,450 in cost and generated from 100,000 to 125,000 impressions.

Focused on promoting a government website page Rep. Pingree says she created to track the  progress of Congress on climate change. In one ad, Pingree says, “For too long, scientific warnings about climate change were ignored. Now we’re in a crisis. It’s up to lawmakers to act quickly to forge a path forward.”

Pingree famously signed on as a co-sponsor of the “Green New Deal” legislation championed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. A recent report from the Competitive Enterprise Institute pegged the cost of that legislation to a cost of upward of $70,000 per household in the first year and more than $40,000 per household in each following year. The report relies on research from the American Enterprise Institute and the energy research firm Wood McKenzie.

The price tag of upwards of $70,000 per household is more than $10,000 higher than the average household income in Maine, meaning the GND would cost households more than they make under that estimate.

The “Green New Deal” legislation is one of the bills promoted on the page Pingree advertised using federal tax dollars.

Another estimate of the cost of the Green New Deal, from the American Action Forum and led by a former director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says the plan would come with a price tag of $93 trillion over the next ten years if fully implemented. That is more money than the U.S. Government has spent since the founding of the country.

Still, it isn’t stopping Pingree from spending federal tax dollars promoting the Green New Deal and a variety of other proposals.

The tactic of spending federal tax dollars on Facebook ads is relatively new. In New Hampshire, Rep. Chris Pappas made news by racking up thousands of dollars in spending on ads through what is known as the “franking privilege.” Franking was originally conceived as a means of assisting members of Congress to communicate with their constituents at no cost via U.S. Mail. The tactic has been controversial over the span of American history, with critics assailing the tactic as an improper use of federal funds.

Now, members such as Rep. Pingree, Rep. Jared Golden and Rep. Chris Pappas, the franking privilege has been converted to a means to fund advertising to their Facebook pages and put their picture and a few lines of text in front of the people of their district at no cost to them.

In the four days since the Maine Examiner report on Rep. Jared Golden’s Facebook ad spending, he has added three more ads and more than $1,200 in additional spending promoting himself on the taxpayer dime.

On the same day of the Maine Examiner report, Eric Brakey, one of Golden’s potential 2020 opponents, announced his campaign would file a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission over Golden’s use of federal tax dollars to promote himself. In a Facebook post announcing the FEC complaint against Golden, Brakey called Golden’s actions “outrageous and unethical” and dinged Golden for cosponsoring a “Welfare for Politicians” bill last year to give himself free federal dollars to run for re-election.

Like Rep. Golden, Rep. Chellie Pingree also cosponsored and voted for that bill. Passed by the House early last year, the bill would provide free federal dollars to Pingree, Golden and others for their re-election campaign. This Maine Examiner report shows how the 2019 bill would provide $6 in federal funds for every $1 candidates like Pingree and Golden raise in qualifying contributions.

You can view the ads run by Congresswoman Chellie Pingree at the following link:

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