We keep hearing about how Republican politicians are leading the way to expose earmark spending.Ã‚Â Rep. John Campbell (R-Irvine) has emerged as a champion of this effort despite his own well-documented record of voting for all sorts of earmarks when the Republicans controlled Congress.
GOP frontrunner Rudy Giuliani is campaigning against Congressional earmarks, unless of course, they benefit his business partners and clients.
HT to Bloomberg News:
Nov. 26 (Bloomberg) — On the campaign trail, Rudy Giuliani rails against congressional spending set aside for lawmakers’ pet projects. In Washington, his law firm fights to obtain them.Ã‚Â Giuliani, the Republican presidential front-runner, last month pledged to “get rid of” so-called earmarks, which cost taxpayers about $13 billion this year, saying his party should promote “fiscal discipline.” Just weeks later, Bracewell & Giuliani LLP won $3 million worth of projects for its clients in defense-spending legislation.Ã‚Â
“It’s a bit hypocritical,” said Republican consultant Eddie Mahe, who isn’t aligned with any presidential candidate. “He profits from it. I don’t think Joe Sixpack is going to buy into that.”
While the firm’s earmarks account for only a small fraction of the defense bill’s $7.9 billion in such projects, they show that Giuliani’s business interests continue to collide with his campaign rhetoric.Ã‚Â His law firm said in June it had severed ties with Citgo Petroleum Corp., the Houston-based oil company controlled by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. And the former New York mayor, who has campaigned as the candidate best able to strengthen national security, has championed construction of a liquefied natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound that opponents say would be vulnerable to a terrorist attack.Ã‚Â 14 CompaniesÃ‚Â In all, Bracewell & Giuliani sought federal earmarks for 14 companies this year, 11 of which hired the firm after Giuliani joined in March 2005, Senate records show. Giuliani, 63, isn’t registered as a lobbyist. The firm paid him $1.2 million last year, according to his personal financial-disclosure form.Ã‚Â The defense-spending legislation approved this month by Congress contained funding for three of those clients, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a Washington-based advocacy group that opposes special projects that lawmakers insert in spending bills without public debate.Ã‚Â The earmarks include $1 million for Buffalo, New York-based Calspan Corp. for a program to help military pilots control their aircraft; $1.2 million for Charlotte, North Carolina-based United Protective Technologies LLC, for developing protective treatments for helicopter windshields; and $800,000 for Burlingame, California-based AtHoc Inc., for an Air Force emergency-notification system.Ã‚Â The companies paid Houston-based Bracewell $140,000 during the first six months of 2007, Senate records show.Ã‚Â
Veterans as LobbyistsÃ‚Â Scott Segal, co-head of Bracewell’s government-relations group, said the firm’s lobbyists include military veterans. “The information they provide helps Congress make decisions regarding its budget priorities,” he said.Ã‚Â Calspan spokeswoman Lissa Carroll and United Protective Technologies spokesman E. Andrew Hough said Bracewell wasn’t hired because of Giuliani. “The firm has a solid reputation” in the defense area, Hough said. AtHoc didn’t comment.Ã‚Â Asked about the firm’s efforts, Giuliani campaign spokeswoman Maria Comella would say only that the candidate is committed to halting the pet projects.Ã‚Â “Mayor Giuliani is running for president on his own ideas, and that includes putting an end to anonymous and irresponsible earmarks,” Comella said. Under a new ethics law signed by President George W. Bush in September, sponsors of all earmarks already must be identified.Ã‚Â `No More Earmarks’Ã‚Â Giuliani has assailed earmarks for months. “When I’m nominated, we’ll have this party back as a party clearly rooted in fiscal discipline,” he told the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a Washington group that supports spending and tax cuts, last month. He said that meant “restraining spending, no more earmarks, low taxes.”Ã‚Â Olivia Zink, field director for Concord-based PrioritiesNH, which backs defense-spending cuts, said Giuliani responded to a question she asked in Wolfeboro in July that he would cut all earmarks, though he wouldn’t reduce the rest of the defense budget.Ã‚Â Giuliani also went after earmarks in a June interview on Fox News. “The idea of anonymous spending of billions and billions and hundreds of billions of dollars is totally undemocratic and creates total unaccountability,” he said. “You have to end earmarks.”Ã‚Â Other presidential candidates are no strangers to promoting special projects. The two Democratic front-runners, Senators Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois, both landed funding for local projects in the defense legislation.Ã‚Â Woodstock MuseumÃ‚Â Clinton drew fire over an earmark she and fellow New York Senator Charles Schumer inserted in another spending measure, seeking $1 million for a performing arts center and museum in Bethel, New York, site of the 1969 Woodstock music festival. The Senate rejected those funds last month.Ã‚Â An ad by Republican presidential candidate John McCain of Arizona singled out the Woodstock earmark, proclaiming that McCain “has the guts to stand up to wasteful government spending.”Ã‚Â Yet even McCain, who has spent years attacking earmarks in the Senate, helped obtain $14.3 million in 2003 to buy land around Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. Two years later, he introduced legislation authorizing federal funding for a new William H. Rehnquist Center at the University of Arizona law school. The measure was never voted on.Ã‚Â