The state gives legislators thousands of dollars each year to cover the costs of communicating with constituents, and Sen. Stacey Campfield is the first to use that money to air "legislative updates" on cable TV, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports.
The money — $6,832 annually for state senators and $2,016 for reps — is typically used on postage and printing costs. Lawmakers tend to stockpile those dollars and either use them on mailers shortly before the elections or transfer funds to fellow legislators. While the state prohibits lawmakers from including political references or postmarking the communications fewer than 30 days from the election, critics argue the communications give incumbents an edge over political challengers. The Dean has more on who gave, who received, and how sitting legislators are spending that money.