Nunes' 32-page mailer draws mixed reviews

Fresno BeeAugust 22, 2010 

FRESNO, Calif. -- A glossy, taxpayer-funded magazine landed with a thud in San Joaquin Valley mailboxes recently, courtesy of Visalia Republican Devin Nunes.

At 32 pages, "The Washington Report" is considerably longer and far more ambitious than the standard congressional mass mailing. It is jammed with color photos and charts, as well as several opinion pieces that reflect Nunes' right-leaning political philosophy.

The publication, arriving just days before the start of a congressional mail blackout period, is getting decidedly mixed reviews.

"The only thing that this mailing will produce are wasted paper and grumpy letter carriers," said John J. Pitney, a government professor at Claremont McKenna College in Southern California.

Nunes defends the mailing as an important form of communication with constituents he has represented since 2003.

"My goal is to get some real solid information to my constituents, so people know where I stand," Nunes said, adding that "these are big-picture ideas."

But this one will likely be much more expensive. Nunes said he does not know the total cost for preparing, publishing and mailing the magazine.

The mailing and printing costs will be known in several months, when the quarterly House spending reports are published. The published costs, however, won't include staff time.

Many congressional newsletters focus on local issues. By contrast, Nunes' magazine embraces big topics. The cover asks: "Has The Sun Set On The Golden State." One headline reads "Climate Science in Denial." Stories ponder California's struggles and ask whether the Golden State's golden era is past. Another advocates for offshore drilling and opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration. A third offers a Republican blueprint for economic recovery.

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