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Tucked away on Seattle's Portage Bay, a sleek, 85-foot speedboat sat idle for years - save for an annual jaunt to maintain its engine.
The Navy paid $4.5 million to build the boat. But months before the hull ever touched water, the Navy gave the boat to the University of Washington. The school never found a use for it, either.
Why would the Navy waste taxpayer dollars on a boat that nobody wanted?
Blame it on Sen. Patty Murray and Congressmen Norm Dicks and Brian Baird. All three exercised their political muscle to slip language into a 2002 spending bill to force the Navy to buy the boat from Edmonds shipbuilder Guardian Marine International.
Year after year, the Washington lawmakers did favors for the tiny company, inserting four "earmarks" into different bills to force the Navy and Coast Guard to buy boats they didn't ask for - $17.65 million in all. None of the boats was used as Congress intended.
The congressional trio say they were helping Guardian Marine because it had a great product. But each has also received generous campaign donations from the company's three executives, its sole employees: $14,277 to Baird, $15,000 to Murray, and $16,750 to Dicks.
It's this sort of abuse, repeated many times over by many congresscritters, that drives the public's disillusionment with our Congress. Real reform on this front needs to happen.
But aside from that, isn't it surprising that we see Bush Dog Brian Baird involved in the middle of this mess? Not surprising at all. When will a primary challenger step up to rid his district of this Bush supporting "Democrat"?
Originally posted to Daily Kos on Mon Oct 15, 2007 at 09:36 PM PDT.