Tuesday, November 06, 2007

More on Congresswoman Jean Schmidt's earmark requests and political contributions

A few weeks ago, Porkopolis detailed the curiosity provoking circumstances surrounding a $100,000 earmark for the John P. Parker Historical Society and the political contributions of Gary Meisner, a landscape architect who has done work for the historical society.

A similar circumstance has been uncovered with a $75,000 earmark in the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008 (H.R. 3074)described as funds for:
Ohio Rail Development Commission for rehabilitation of an industrial building
The Ohio Rail Development Commision has shared that the earmark grant is for the following project, which is also being contributed to by the Ohio Department of Development:
Norfolk Southern Railway Company (NS), located in Portsmouth (Scioto County), will receive a $100,000 Rapid Outreach Grant (412) for costs associated with the acquisition of machinery and equipment in support of the company’s expansion. NS provides comprehensive transportation and logistics services and is a major freight railroad operating 21,500 route miles in 22 states, the District of Columbia and Ontario, Canada. Norfolk Southern Corporation, a Norfolk, Va.-based company, is the parent of NS. NS proposes to invest in new machinery and equipment, facility improvements and on-site rail infrastructure improvements to reopen its car repair shop, which will be used to repair the company's railcar fleet. Portsmouth was selected over sites in other states for this more than $2.8 million project, which is expected to create 77 jobs and retain 247 positions within the first three years of the project's initial operations.
In the 2005-2006 campaign cycle, Norfolk Southern contributed $1,000 to Congresswoman Jean Schmidt's Political Action Committee.

This 'coincidence' again allow Ms. Schmidt's constituents to question the influence political contributions are having on the earmark requests she is making.

Update: An excellent essay on why stopping pork earmarks matter (HT: Instapundit): Getting Porker Protection:
...“I know my district better than some unelected bureaucrat!”
Members defend their earmarks because they think they know how to spend money more wisely than some unelected, faceless bureaucrat.

Actually, the truth is just the opposite.

There are currently two members of Congress in prison, and several more under investigation for corruption. In a lot of these cases, earmarks were involved. This is because the earmark process allows members to exploit their positions of power.

Earlier this year, Senators Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton earmarked $1 million for a museum in New York commemorating the Woodstock Festival. A few weeks later, the recipients of the earmark donated $29,000 to the senators’ campaigns. Was this a quid pro quo? Who knows? But because of the earmark process, this kind of “circular fundraising” happens all of the time...

...Pork projects are the currency of corruption in Congress. There’s an unwritten rule that you can have your pork, but only if you vote for the overall bill in which it is contained. This allows big bills to become even bigger bills. Clever members can also straddle the fence on an important bill and wait to be wooed with pork projects in order to bless them with their vote. It’s a nasty business, but it happens all the time....



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