April 21, 2009

Rep. Hal Rogers: King of the Earmarks

Most people are against earmarks abuse in the abstract, but this piece will give you concrete examples of what kinds of abuse are possible.

Following new rules that govern the earmarking process, a spotlight has landed on KY-5 Representative Hal Rogers. Despite burying his requested earmarks deep in his website, orientated sideways and unsearchable, it becomes clear that Rogers wants little more than to "bring home the bacon" to his south Kentucky district.

Some examples?

Those requests include more than $40 million for programs that Rogers either created directly or are housed in Rogers' hometown of Somerset at the Center for Rural Development, a sprawling, state-of-the-art facility that locals call the "Taj-Ma Hal."

The National Institute for Hometown Security, a non-profit organization that Rogers helped create and has few staffers, is slated to net $15 million "to continue to provide leadership in discovering and developing community based critical infrastructure protections solutions."

That last sentence really doubles down on the buzzwords, doesn't it?

Rogers' earmark requests include $6 million to Somerset-based Progeny Systems to develop a biometrics-based submarine access control system, $8 million to the Outdoor Venture Corp., also in Somerset, for tents that can be relocated and reconstructed by two people in 20 minutes, and $16 million to the McKee, Ky.-based Phoenix Products Inc. for aircraft drip pans.

Progeny employees gave more than $13,000 to Rogers through his campaign and his political action committee, HALPAC. Outdoor Venture Corp. president James Egnew and his wife, Azalie, contributed more than $20,000 to Rogers' campaigns; Peggy and Thomas Wilson, owner and manager of Phoenix Products, have given roughly $15,000.

So in addition with mere waste, there also exists these "coincidental" connections between donors donating money and receiving funds. Sure.

It is nearly impossible to find Roger's list of earmarks on his website without this direct link to the list.