When Tax Watch asked state Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, last week about his use of the Senate franking privilege to send campaign-style pamphlets to constituent homes, his office issued a prepared statement, saying his spending was within his “allotted mail budget, and not a penny more.”
But Ball has refused to disclose his allotment.
Today, his opponent in the November election, attorney Justin Wagner, a Cortlandt Democrat, sent Ball a letter, asking for an accounting.
“Please disclose the number of franked mailings you have sent to constituents since taking office as state Senator, the cost of each individual mailer, and the target audience that each piece was sent to,” Wagner wrote. “As taxpayers, we paid for it, and we have the right to know. I believe the public deserves answers, and the best way to resolve this is to come forward and publically disclose the details of this spending.”
Those answers, however, weren’t forthcoming. Ball’s press secretary, Joe Bachmeier, didn’t return several phone messages. Ball aide Krista Gobins said the senator was in session in Albany and unavailable.
Tax Watch reported on Saturday that Ball’s six-month spending on mail – $114,108 – was the third highest among the state’s 62 senators and more than double the state Senate average of $46,943 on mail. Ball spent at twice the rate of the Lower Hudson Valley’s six senators, who averaged $57,299.
Wagner says taxpayers deserve to know the particulars of the “allotted mail budget” that Bachmeier referred to in his prepared statement. In an interview, Bachmeier said he believed the mail allotment was not a matter for public disclosure.
“This is outrageous, as either your office is keeping this budgetary allotment secret from taxpayers, or you are working within an allotted mail budget that you do not know the amount of, which I presume would make it difficult to ensure that you are staying within budget,” Wagner wrote. “Secrets may fly in Albany now, but taxpayers deserve better.”