The latest fundraising plea from Democratic congresswoman Cheri Bustos tells potential donors their money is desperately needed to fund struggling post offices—but every dollar raised is going straight to her campaign.
A Sunday email from Bustos, an Illinois lawmaker who was chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee last cycle, painted a dire picture of operations at the USPS, and begged recipients to chip in. "We need EVERYONE reading this email to do their part to help us raise $3,420 TODAY and save USPS," Bustos wrote in the fundraising email, pointing to an NPR report on mail delivery delays. "Please chip in $5 or whatever you can afford right now."
Any concerned donor who clicked to help post offices, however, arrived on Bustos‘s ActBlue fundraising page, where she was pleading for money to help fight Republicans in Congress. And links to NPR's story on mail delays didn't lead to a news report but, rather, to the same request for contributions.
The bizarre fundraising attempt comes as Bustos fights to cling to her House seat—after winning reelection by more than 20 percentage points in both 2016 and 2018, she won reelection this November by only about 12,000 votes.
One shortcoming was her inability to raise money from Illinois constituents. Campaign finance disclosures show Bustos received only 9 percent of her contributions for the entire 2020 cycle from inside the 17th Congressional District she represents. In her latest campaign finance filing, she failed to register a single contribution from inside her district, and only three donations totaling $692 from anyone who lists an Illinois zip code.
The latest fundraising email from the Illinois congresswoman also does not contain a single reference to anything in Illinois.
Bustos did not respond to a request for comment.
On Tuesday afternoon, Bustos followed up on her plea to save the post office, complaining that not enough people were donating. "We were sure that Good Democrats would do the right thing and chip in to save the Post Office," her email read. "But donations have screeched to a halt!"
"Now more than ever, we need to be able to receive prescriptions, send mail, and stay connected with our loved ones," it said. "Please rush a donation of any size to SAVE the Post Office."
The donation links, again, went to Bustos's campaign.