Ethics Violation Lodged Against Senator Lincoln

The Arkansas Republican Party says it has filed a complaint with the Senate Select Committee on Ethics against Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln claiming she violated federal laws when she recently sent a newsletter to Arkansas residents.

The newsletter seen here is a four page overview of Lincoln's work on agricultural issues and was "prepared, published and mailed at taxpayer expense." These mailings are used by most members of Congress to update constituents about legislation in Washington. But since the newsletters come directly from member offices, campaign finance laws place limits on the content and timing of the messages so incumbents don't overtly use public funds for political messages.

In its complaint against Lincoln, the Arkansas Republican Party says the newsletter was unlawfully sent during a 60-day blackout period and has an excess of personal and biographical references. They also claim the four images of Lincoln violate federal law on campaign mailings that was first enacted in 1970.

"Senator Lincoln has been in Washington long enough to know the rules pertaining to franking privileges," Arkansas Republican Party Chairman Doyle Webb said in a press release announcing the complaint. "The fact that she'd commit such an obvious abuse of this privilege demonstrates that she's not looking out for the taxpayers of Arkansas."

Lincoln survived a bruising primary battle earlier this year and is now campaigning against Republican Congressman John Boozman for a third term.

"Clearly, this is a politically motivated complaint by the Arkansas Republican Party as we near an election. We took all the required steps to ensure that these mailings were thoroughly reviewed and cleared by the Senate Ethics Committee for all of their written and photographic content," said Elizabeth Burks, Lincoln's Chief of Staff in a statement to Fox News. "The mailings were approved by the Ethics Committee as a legislative update from Senator Lincoln to keep her constituents informed about issues important to them. The newsletters were completed and mailed by September 1, which is before the 60-day restriction on mass mailing began."