One of the myths that John McCain has pawned off on the public most successfully is the one about his inveterate hostility to earmarks. For years McCain has been claiming that he never has put a single earmark in any bill.
"I have never asked for nor received a single earmark or pork barrel project for my state..."
Here he was praising himself last December as the NYT was about to break the Vicki Iseman lobbying story:
"I've never done any favors for anybody — lobbyist or special-interest group — that's a clear, 24-year record."
On July 29 in a speech to employees at the Wagner Equipment Co. in Aurora CO, McCain told the earmark lie again:
Next he moved on to talking about how he would never allow any "pork barrel" spending to be put into any bill he would sign. He made a claim that he has never (note the absolute here) put any kind of earmark in a bill in his time in the Congress or Senate.
You see McCain's assertion about earmarks parroted all over. The Myth has such a grip on the public that The Google doesn't know of anyone ever using the expression 'McCain inserted an earmark' - until now, that is.
However as BarbinMD has documented repeatedly, in his eagerness to shower federal money on constituents and cronies McCain does indeed resort to earmarks. For example, McCain slipped a $ 14.3 million earmark in the 2004 Defense authorization bill (from which it jumped into the appropriations bill) to purchase land near an Arizona Air Force base. The earmark had not been approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee nor requested by the President nor part of Pentagon planning. From Roll Call (subscription required):
"Even though this project is in clear violation of the McCain rule because it was not authorized nor requested, we are happy to provide the funds at his request and the request of other members of the Arizona delegation," said House Appropriations Committee spokesman John Scofield.
Scofield also noted that the provision may violate other tenets of McCain’s "pork" rules because the purpose of the funds — to acquire land to prevent the encroachment of residential development near the base’s live-fire range — is not included in Defense’s long-term strategic plans and may not be achievable within a five-year time frame.
McCain inserted the earmark on behalf of an Arizona developer, SunCor, whose executives have close ties to McCain's political campaigns and have contributed $224,000 to him since 1998.
His friends at SunCor also benefited from dubious land-swap legislation McCain pushed through Congress in 2005. Over the years McCain has promoted quite a few bills to reward friends back home. Among the many favors he's done for wealthy Arizona land developer Donald Diamond, McCain has sponsored at least 3 bills to assure land deals Diamond wanted. Two other shady land-swap deals McCain got involved in during the '90s are described here. Then there was McCain's 2005 legislation to give $10 million to the Univ. of Arizona as a tribute to William Rehnquist. Even in the corrupt Republican Congress of the day, the bill couldn't get out of committee.
And let's not ignore McCain's prodigious letter-writing on behalf of constituents as he's tried to tap into federal dollars by secretive routes. For example, in 1992 he wrote to EPA head Bill Reilly asking him to direct $5 million for a wastewater treatment plant in Arizona. This came after Congress had already rejected the spending request.
"I would like to request that EPA either re-program $5 million out of existing funds or earmark the amount from an appropriate account," McCain wrote in his Oct. 9, 1992 letter to then-EPA Administrator William K. Reilly, calling the earmark "crucial to protecting the public health and the environment."
How many more times from now until the November election will we read and hear that McCain has 'never asked for a single earmark or pork barrel project'?