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Congressional Hypocrisy Reigns in Stimulus “Letters”
WASHINGTON - October 18 - Leading congressional critics of President Obama's $787 billion stimulus plan went behind the scenes after it became law and requested stimulus money for local projects through letters to federal agency chiefs, a new Center for Public Integrity investigation reveals. The writers included members of the Republican Party's congressional leadership and several Democrats who had voted against the stimulus bill.
Using the Freedom of Information Act and federal agency sources, Center reporters John Solomon and Aaron Mehta collected a stack of letters one-feet high detailing thousands of requests from lawmakers in both parties to secure funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that was designed to stimulate the sagging economy. The Center obtained more than 1,500 of these letters from the Departments of Transportation, Energy, and Commerce alone.
The letter writers range from freshman Republican Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, the darling of the Tea Party movement who shocked the political world by capturing Ted Kennedy's old seat after campaigning against the stimulus, to at least a half dozen GOP congressional leaders. The latter include Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, John McCain, R-Ariz., Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana and Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Texas.
Like their Republican counterparts, Democratic critics of the stimulus also sent letters seeking funding afterwards. Rep. Walt Minnick of Idaho - one of just seven Democrats in the House to vote against the stimulus bill - wrote a series of letters to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, requesting stimulus funds for four different broadband-related projects within his state.
The letters particularly dismay conservative advocacy groups. "The GOP should not be taking this money and spending it regardless of where it came from," said Rob Gaudet, national coordinator for Tea Party Patriots. "They should be fighting against it with every fiber of their elected beings."Read and link to the Center story, "Stimulating Hypocrisy: Scores of Recovery Act Opponents Sought Money Out of Public View."