If couponers controlled public spending the way they control their household spending, just think of the money we could all save!

That was the thinking, in part, that prompted couponer-turned-politican Julie Parrish to switch careers. But sometimes her political opponents can use her frugal past against her.

Parrish was the co-founder of Hot Coupon World, one of the internet’s most popular coupon forums. But back in 2010, she ran for a seat in the state House in Oregon, and won. She’s not associated with Hot Coupon World anymore, but she hasn’t shied away from her coupon-clipping past and even continues to use the Twitter handle @hotcouponmama to communicate with her constituents.

But things got a bit ugly this week when a Democratic county official attacked the Republican state representative on Facebook.

“Screw you, Julie Parrish,” Clackamas County Commission Chairman Jim Bernard wrote on his Facebook page. “Collect all the coupons to feed your family and pay your health care.”

And you thought couponing Facebook groups could get heated.


But this is politics, not couponing. Bernard was reacting to Parrish’s failed effort to repeal a package of taxes to pay for low-income residents’ health insurance. She had argued that individual taxpayers and small businesses would have to pay a disproportionate share to fund the program. But that explanation didn’t go over well with program supporters.

“The same old argument that we had enough money if we cut budgets. Cut you from the Legislature!” Bernard wrote in his post.

“I appreciate that politics is a rough and tumble arena, and my feelings certainly aren’t hurt by this post, but I do question the professionalism of our Clackamas County Chair Jim Bernard,” Parrish wrote in her own Facebook post.

Bernard later apologized, calling his comments “inappropriate” and “wrong”, and that he was simply frustrated at the amount of money spent campaigning for and against the measure that Parrish championed.

But Parrish says she’s still all about saving money, even though she’s several years removed from running a coupon site. “At the end of the day, that coupon lady has not gone away,” she told Oregon Public Broadcasting earlier this month.

In a 2009 interview posted on Hot Coupon World, Parrish described how the site came to be and what made it different from others like it. “We have the friendliest forum on the web,” she said. “Hopping into a social networking community can be downright cutthroat because if you’re new to a topic and you join a group, I’m always amazed at how many sites out there treat new people badly.”

For a “coupon mama” turned state representative, it seems like the same can be said about politics.

Image sources: Facebook

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