I laughed when reading Rep. Merrill Cook, R-Utah, try and defend his taxpayer-funded campaign mailings costing in excess of $168,000 by saying that if we "really think about it and what it costs to run the government, this is a very small price to pay." Such statements indicate not only failure to tell the truth but underscore Cook's hypocrisy in saying one thing and then doing another.

For example, it was Cook who lam-basted former Rep. Karen Shepherd, D-Utah, for mailing truly issues-oriented pamphlets to the people in the 2nd District during her term of office. He said, "It is the height of hypocrisy for her to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on taxpayer-funded mail," but now that he holds the title, he does it himself far in excess of what she ever did. These mailings are prepared, printed and mailed at taxpayer expense, and to write them off as "communication" is as ridiculous as it is false.The simple facts of the matter are these: The statement, "We drove the road bill through so you can drive home safely," which shines as an obvious campaign slogan, the air-brushed pictures of cars in traffic and the photograph of Rep. Cook chumming around with two popular U.S. senators in an endorsement embrace, are an affront to the franking privilege. To tout these mailings as an effort to "inform" us shows Merrill Cook's unwavering ability to talk out of both sides of his mouth and do anything, say anything or spend anything, even if it is taxpayers' money, to get elected.

Michael A. Thomas

Salt Lake City