Mailboxes are off limits

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 4, 2004

DEMOPOLIS – Mailboxes are off limits for politicians.

That is unless the campaign material has a stamp on it and it was placed there by letter carriers.

Demopolis Postmaster Patti Thomas said at least two local candidates have had their campaign literature end up in mailboxes of postal customers.

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While she declined to name the candidates, calling the practice an honest mistake, she said such activity is a violation of federal law and carry stiff penalties.

“Everyone should know that you must pay postage to put anything in a mailbox,” she said.

Federal law basically makes it a crime to place mailable matter not bearing postage a crime, and a fine of not more than $300 per offense can be levied.

For example, a political campaign that distributes 1,000 candidate flyers in mailboxes could face a fine of $300,000. Assuming a first-class postage rate of $.37, those same 1,000 pieces could be mailed for $370.

“Letter carriers are instructed to collect a representative number of the offending matter from their routes and bring it to my attention,” she said. “If there is reason to believe that a private delivery firm or an individual within the local delivery area is responsible, we notify the party of the postage due. Furthermore, legal action is initiated accordingly against those who knowingly and willfully distribute matter in such a manner.”