THE Assembly faces calls for an expenses probe after a leaked memo revealed how Plaid Cymru AMs were urged to cut back on helping constituents and channel the money saved into party campaigning.
The document, written by social justice spokeswoman Leanne Wood, argues helping constituents is a waste of time because it does not translate into enough votes for Plaid Cymru.
She urges Plaid Cymru AMs to follow one "simple golden rule" in deciding which events to attend - only attend those which will "further the aims" of the party.
Plaid Cymru insist the proposals, which openly flout Assembly rules, were not taken up, but Welsh Secretary Peter Hain labelled the document a "smoking gun" and called for an investigation into how regional Assembly Members are using their allowances.
Regional and constituency AMs claim the same amounts for office costs and staff allowances.
In 2004-05 that figure was £43,900 for staffing with an additional £12,100 for office costs.
These must, according to Assembly orders, be "wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred in connection with his or her duties as an Assembly Member".
But in her memo, Ms Wood argues regional AMs have the chance to cut back on traditional constituency work and use the cash saved to promote the party.
She cites the case of former Rhondda AM Geraint Davies who dealt with 2,500 individual case complaints during his four-year term. "A very small proportion of those people indicated that they would be voting Plaid Cymru in telephone canvassing.
"This begs the question, 'is casework the best use of any AM's time'?" Ms Wood suggests instead of "working with individuals" regional AMs should work with groups campaigning on issues as an opportunity to push Plaid Cymru's self-government aim.
She also urges AMs to free up staff resources through post-sharing or part-time employment, with the remaining time used by the party.
"We need to be thinking much more creatively as to how we better use staff budgets for furthering the aims of the party."
And she warns Plaid Cymru AMs not to waste time attending events which will not benefit the party.
The memo was written after the last Assembly elections, which saw Plaid Cymru's share of seats fall from 17 to 12, precipitating a leadership crisis.
It emerged as the Government's White Paper, Better Governance for Wales, proposes barring regional list AMs from also standing in constituency seats.
Mr Hain said the leaked memo was "copper-bottom proof of precisely the abuses which have angered not just Labour Party members but people right across Wales and beyond".
"Leanne Wood has been caught in possession of a smoking gun," he added, "There should now be an investigation into the role of regional AMs and the way they use their allowances.
"Taxpayers' money is being manipulated for clear party advantage," he said. "Leanne Wood's comments bring into complete disrepute the role of elected regional representatives, who ought to be serving everyone, regardless of party affiliation."
Ms Wood declined to respond. "This was a discussion paper that was rejected," said a Plaid Cymru spokesman. "This is no longer her opinion," he added.