By Nate Smith Times Herald
The Washington Times-Herald
---- — Although the 2014 primary is months away, the first shot has been fired between state Senate Dist. 39 Republican candidates John Waterman and Eric Bassler.
On Monday, the Bassler campaign released a statement asking Waterman (R-Shelburn) and officials at the state Senate to provide information on taxpayer-funded mailings and the use of data for political purposes.
The campaign said in the release that Waterman has sent three “overtly political mailings” to voters in the past month.
They claim the mailings are at taxpayer expense.
Also, the campaign said Waterman is sending emails to voters.
“I have two concerns about this,” Bassler said. “First, how much are taxpayers paying for Sen. Waterman’s political mailings? These are dollars taken from families trying to feed kids, coal miners paying mortgages and retirees on fixed incomes. It is a blatant waste of taxpayers’ money.
“Second, I am deeply concerned about the collection and use of citizens’ private data by state government — especially because this data has been used for political purposes. We need to protect Hoosiers from the political abuses of their data and privacy.”
The candidate from Washington asked Waterman to provide information about the mailings and where the information came from the emails. Waterman said Tuesday he has heard about the complaints and the Bassler campaign has been complaining to the state for several weeks.
But Waterman said as he is the sitting senator, he has the right and duty to inform his constituents on matters.
“I have to keep constituents informed on the state level,” Waterman said.
Per state law, every state representative or senator is allowed funds for mailings to inform constituents on actions at the state level.
Waterman said, according to the state, he is actually one behind on his mailings for the year.
Waterman also said the emails are free and constituents sign up for the free newsletter. The senator, who is preparing for Organization Day, thinks the Bassler campaign complaints is baseless.
“If you are going to be in a campaign cycle, you are going to be in a campaign cycle,” Waterman said.
Bassler and Waterman are vying for the May GOP nomination for District 39. So far, there has not been a Democrat announcing intentions to run for the seat. District 39 includes Daviess, Greene, Martin and Sullivan counties, and parts of Clay, Knox and Owen counties.