Many Northern New Mexicans were the recipients Aug. 15 of an exciting piece of junk mail. Our congressman won the healthy seniors award. The junk mail came courtesy of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, located in Washington D.C. More about that organization later.

    The flyer states our congressman protected seniors’ access to Medicare Part D, so he should get this neat glass award, which is pictured inside the flyer. There isn’t a picture of U.S. Rep. Ben Lujan receiving the award, just a picture of the award.

    The Partnership’s narrative does not explain the qualifications to received the award. We assume Lujan voted for or against something and that made them happy.

    “Congress recently blocked a misguided proposal to end the Protected Classes in Medicare Part D,” is part of the vague explanation. You’re not told what proposal it was specifically.

    We scrolled through the many votes during Congress’s first session. There was House Resolution 357 in May to help protect those with preexisting conditions but everyone voted for that and it was not Luján’s bill.

    He’s also allegedly “fighting to improve catastrophic coverage and reduce senior’s out-of-pocket costs.” We’re pretty sure every Democrat in the U.S. House and Senate are doing the same. But none of them got the healthy seniors award. Just our Ben.

    Please imagine a picture of Ben standing on the steps of Congress, hands on hips, cape billowing in the wind.

    The only phone number on the junk mail is allegedly Ben’s number in Washington. You’re supposed to call and thank him for protecting our seniors. It's actually the main switchboard number for Congress. We’ll bet you end up either being asked for money or put on his mailing list for his U.S. Senate run.

    The only web site offered on the flyer was the healthy seniors award web site, which gives you the same information as the junk mail. It doesn’t go to any home page. It’s a stand alone static site.

    Fortunately, federal laws force politicians to have  a “paid for by” name on all campaign ads, which is what this junk mail is. The award was sponsored and the junk mail paid for by Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease. They do have a web site. It’s chock full of stories about how poor America’s health is. Most of the stories are old, the most recent one was posted April 2.

    Kenneth Thorpe is the president. He writes some of the material also. The group’s mission is focused on bringing other non-profits and medical resources together to address chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and Alzheimers. A noble mission and badly needed.

    But what do they have to do with Ben?

    They’re located on 5th street in Washington above the Bantam King restaurant. They don’t list their telephone number on Ben’s junk mail. It’s not on the Partnership’s web site. Under media contacts we found Jennifer Burke. We sent her an email Aug. 23 to get answers to Ben’s esteemed recognition.

    Her two paragraph email response began with the web site’s listed mission. Then she states the Partnership awarded several elected officials throughout the country with the same honor, followed by the same vague paragraph on the flyer about what our Ben did to deserve his glass trophy.

    Our follow-up questions about who the other elected officials were, what specifically Ben did, the cost of the flyer (production and postage) and if the Partnership will show up on Ben’s campaign contribution list were not answered.

    Ben’s federal web site for campaign finance reporting shows nothing reported from Champion for Healthy Seniors nor Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease. The junk mail is clearly political and the group acknowledges that by including the “paid for by” tag line. We’ll check again Sept. 30 after our congressman’s campaign files its donations.

    Until then, know that your congressman is fighting hard in some way to do something about Medicare Part D and somehow protecting seniors from something catastrophic happening to their insurance(s). Also know our congressman does not need your money. He is one of the top fundraisers inside the beltway.

    If he worked half as hard at his job, as he does fund-raising, he’d have solved the Middle East crisis by now.

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