Oct 232010

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 was a $787 billion dollar package. John Solomon and Aaron Mehta of The Center for Public Integrity in October 2010 reported that “the Center collected a stack of letters a foot high detailing nearly 2,000 requests from lawmakers in both parties to secure funding from a law designed to stimulate the sagging economy. The Center obtained a total of more than 1,500 of these letters from just three departments: Transportation, Energy, and Commerce.” The practice of writing letters for projects is called lettermarking. “Jack Abramoff, since convicted on charges related to fraud and bribery, often arranged for lawmakers to send letters to agencies pressing for appropriation funds, then followed up with donations to the lawmakers who acquiesced.”

John Solomon and Aaron Mehta also reported the following:

  • Representative Pete Sessions, a Republican from Dallas, Texas, called the stimulus wasteful, and then asked Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood for $81 million from the stimulus for a project in the Carrollton suburb, suggesting the project would create jobs.
  • Representative Brad Ellsworth, a Democrat from Indiana, receivedd $6,500 from Duke Energy’s political action committe (PAC). He voted against the stimulus and then later wrote for a grant from the Energy Department for Duke Energy.
  • Senator John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, voted against the stimulus package, and sent a letter to the Department of Transportation for money for the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
  • Senator Scott Brown, a Republican from Massachusetts, spoke against the stimulus package’s ability to create jobs. He wrote a letter requesting stimulus money for the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) saying that it would help entrepreneurs and job creators. MBI was awarded $45.4 million.
  • Representative Michele Bachmann, a Republican from Minnesota, “has complained the stimulus bill will require ‘massive tax increases’ to create short-term jobs and ran a campaign ad this month boasting that she fought against ‘the failed Pelosi trillion-dollar stimulus.'” She wrote a letter “the Transportation Department for the St. Croix River Crossing Project that she argued ‘would directly produce 1,407 new jobs per year while indirectly producing 1,563 a year – a total of 2,970 jobs each year after the project’s completion.'”
  • Representative Walt Minnick, a Democrat from Idaho, voted against the stimulus bill, and wrote letters to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke for money for broadband projects.

To read the entire article, click on Stimulating Hypocrisy: Scores of Recovery Act Opponents Sought Money Out of Public View.

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