The Frank originally referred to the signature that is affixed to mail that members of Congress send to their constituents at taxpayer expense.
The purpose of Franked mail is to communicate something of value to constituents about what their government is doing and what their member of Congress is working on.
But the Frank has been abused over the years by members who use it to promote themselves, to try to ensure their re-election.
Ever wonder why so many low-grade members of Congress who keep voting for tax increases, big government, and perpetual war keep getting elected?
The Frank is one big reason why!
Over the years, “Franking” has come to include not just mail, but also newspaper and radio ads, and someone snuck in billboards as well, though few members of Congress ever use the Frank for a billboard.
Following is from the House Franking Manual, officially known as the Communications Standards Manual, explaining the purpose of official communications paid for with taxpayer money:
All content in official communications must be related to official business. Official business includes matters which relate directly or indirectly to: the legislative process, congressional functions generally, constituent services, the day-to-day operations of Congress, Federal issues of public concern, actions taken as a representative of the district from which the Member is elected, requests for public opinion of constituents regarding policy issues, and the facilitation of interaction between constituents and the Federal government. All official communications must be consistent with applicable Federal laws, House rules, and Committee on House Administration regulations. Notwithstanding any other provision in this section, the use of original, unmanipulated floor speeches, or official Committee Activity (including but not limited to hearing, markup, or any other official Committee activity) appearing in an official record may be permitted in official communications, so long as such have not been stricken from the record.