Chaka Fattah wanted context. And he didn't care if the people he represents in the Second Congressional District had to wait until after his primary election and during his federal trial to get it.
The 11-term congressman, who in February said he was "ramping up" his use of federal money to advertise his office as his reelection campaign fund-raising faltered, declined to tell me how much he was spending until U.S. House rules required it.
Fattah wanted his spending released when it could be compared with the 434 other members of the House. Those numbers were made public Friday.
Here's what they show: Fattah, a Democrat, spent $18,517 in government funds to send mail to his constituents in the first three months of 2016.
For context, he spent so little on that kind of mail in the first three months of 2015 that he had a negative balance of $7.21.
Fattah, Friday's House report shows, also spent $128,540 on "mass communications" to contact constituents in the Second District in ways beyond the U.S. Postal Service, such as radio ads, robocalls, telephone town halls meetings, internet pitches, and emails.
He spent no money on such efforts in the first three months of 2015.
Combined, that's more than $147,000 in taxpayer funds spent in three months for Fattah to reach out to his constituents.
Fattah, who is due in court again Tuesday for day 10 of his federal trial on charges that he misdirected tax dollars to repay an illegal campaign loan, did not respond Friday to requests for comment.
Still, we have context.
The $147,000 is nearly four times the $37,931 Fattah raised for his campaign account in the first three months of 2016. And much of his campaign money went not to his unsuccessful reelection bid, but to lawyers.
Fattah, like other House members, is allowed to spend federal money to communicate with his constituents in his district.
That's called "the frank," a privilege for members of Congress that dates back to 1775.
Fattah, when asked in February about his franking, said he had to increase it because the local news media didn't give his work adequate coverage.
Through his spokeswoman, Fattah first promised me he'd provide his spending details by March 31. Then he decided to push that off until the April 16 deadline to file that information with the House.
On April 16 - 10 days before the Democratic primary - Fattah once again pushed off providing those details, saying he would wait for the House to release it all.
That kept his spending a secret until after the primary, which Fattah lost by seven percentage points to state Rep. Dwight Evans, who easily outpaced the incumbent in campaign fund-raising.
Fattah last month explained why he reneged on promises to disclose his spending before the House made it public.
"These rules exist so that any analysis of a congressperson's spending can be properly compared and contrasted with the other 434 members so as to protect the public from being misled," Fattah wrote to me in an email. "Context is important."
Turns out he was right. Check out this context.
Fattah's $128,540 was the largest expenditure for mass communications in the quarter for a voting member of the House.
It was nearly double the $66,639 spent by U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, a Republican from Tennessee who came in second in that category.
Only Pedro Pierluisi, a nonvoting delegate to the House from Puerto Rico, spent more than Fattah on mass communications.
The $163,893 Pierluisi spent on non-U.S. Postal Service communications was meant for his island's 3.5 million residents.
Fattah's Second District, with 716,892 residents, has about one-fifth of Puerto Rico's population.
Sometimes context is worth the wait.