The Pork Barrel Champion
By: Fred Lucas
CNSNews.com | Friday, January 25, 2008
group that lobbies for needle exchanges, for allowing more immigrants
with HIV/AIDS to legally enter the country, and for condom distribution
in prisons received a $303,000 federal earmark pushed by Sen. Hillary
That was one of 261 earmarks Clinton
personally helped usher through Congress. That's more earmarks than any
other member of Congress seeking the presidency, according to an analysis by the watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW).
specific appropriation is from the Department of Justice and is aimed
at fighting methamphetamine use - that's what the Gay Men's Health
Crisis Center is supposed to do with the taxpayer-funded money.
announced the grant in October 2007, a month after receiving a $750
donation and a $250 donation from Felix Lopez, an attorney for the Gay
Men's Health Crisis and for a clinic based in New York.
number of other non-profit organizations in New York state that
received Clinton earmarks also had employees who contributed to her
presidential campaign or political action committee, HillPAC.
Felix Lopez could not be reached for comment this week.
funding for the earmarks came through the $555 billion FY 2008 omnibus
bill, which included nearly 1,000 earmarks. Clinton's 261 earmarks were
more than twice as many as any other member of Congress seeking the
presidency, the CAGW analysis showed.
Under ethics reform
legislation passed last year, 2008 is the first year that members of
Congress have to put their names on earmarks.
In announcing the
earmark to the homosexual group last October, Clinton said: "The Gay
Men's Health Clinic is providing a critical service in working to halt
the devastation that methamphetamine brings to our community. With
HIV/AIDS rates among meth users more than twice as high as the general
public, these funds are essential in helping the Gay Men's Health
Clinic continue the fight against HIV/AIDS through treatment and
The Gay Men's Health Crisis Center, based in New York City, has a public policy agenda
for the federal, state, and city level that includes a needle exchange
program to curb the spread of HIV, allowing non-profit groups to
distribute condoms for free throughout prisons, and opposition to
abstinence-only sex education.
The group says its top
legislative agenda item at the federal level involves changing
immigration policy to eliminate HIV/AIDS as grounds for inadmissibility
as a disease of public health significance.
In a survey
of presidential candidates by the Gay Men's Health Crisis, Clinton
provided a "mixed position" on the issue of repealing the HIV entry
ban. Her chief rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Barack Obama
of Illinois, supports the repeal.
Both support needle exchange
programs and the distribution of free condoms in prisons, and they
oppose abstinence-only sex education.
The group scored Clinton
at 92 percent and Obama at 89 percent. Only Rep. Dennis Kucinich
(D-Ohio) beat Clinton with a 100 percent rating, the survey reported.
Stone, the Gay Men's Health Crisis assistant director of community
relations, declined to comment on Clinton's earmark for the group and
only said that the group does not endorse candidates and employees are
free to contribute to whomever they like.
Stone also referred
to a Dec. 28, 2007, news release from the organization praising the
omnibus bill for its funding for the Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC).
are deeply grateful to Senators Schumer and Clinton for their hard work
to ensure this appropriations bill passed," said Dr. Marjorie J. Hill,
the GMHC's chief executive officer, in the release. "Their leadership
in addressing the rising rates of crystal meth use will help us prevent
further HIV/AIDS infections."
But her comments were followed by
Sean Cahill, managing director of public policy for the group, who
said, "We're disappointed that this omnibus bill still contains
millions for harmful and ineffective abstinence-only-until-marriage
education and still contains the restriction banning the use of federal
funds for syringe exchange."
'What kind of president would you be?'
of the 261 earmarks with Clinton's name on them went to New York
counties and municipalities, universities and colleges, and charitable
For the candidates still in the primary race,
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) had 46 earmarks, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) had
10 earmarks, Kucinich had 9 earmarks and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) had
no earmarks, according to the CAGW. McCain has campaigned on having no
earmarks during his time in Congress, and he has pledged to eliminate
them if elected president.
The obvious flaw in comparing
earmarks by the candidates is that former Govs. Mike Huckabee of
Arkansas and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, or other candidates who
didn't serve in Congress last year, can't be ranked, said David
Williams, vice president of policy at CAGW.
"This analysis is supposed to ask: What kind of president would you be if you had 261 earmarks?" Williams told Cybercast News Service. "Would you be more likely or less likely to issue an executive order eliminating earmarks?"
Earmarks and campaign cash
of Clinton's earmarks included organizations that did not have
employees who donated to her campaign. But many cases were notable.
Most organizations did not respond to requests for comment.
Clinton campaign did not respond to questions on the earmarks. But her
Senate office provided a statement in response to questions by Cybercast News Service.
The response did not address questions about any individual earmarks or
questions concerning potential connections to campaign contributions.
Clinton is very proud to have helped New York-based projects that train
nurses, improve our hospitals, help those suffering from 9/11-related
health ailments, bolster national and homeland security, and provide
our brave men and women in uniform with the resources they need to
achieve the mission while keeping them safe," said Clinton's press
secretary, Philippe Reines, in a written statement to Cybercast News Service.
and administrators at the New School, a university in New York - which
received more than $2.9 million in earmarks with Clinton's name on them
- gave a total of $5,100 to her campaign last year. New School
President Bob Kerry is a vocal Clinton supporter.
Rosenthall, listed as president of Phoenix House, a drug rehab center
with an office in New York, gave Clinton's campaign $800 through
donations in August and September. The omnibus bill approved by the
Senate in October included a $601,000 earmark with Clinton's name on it
for the Phoenix House.
In addition, Reynold Levy, president of
the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, contributed $3,200 to
Clinton last February. Clinton's name was on two earmarks worth a total
of $890,000 for the Lincoln Center.
"I spoke with Reynold
Levy, and he said there was no connection between the individual
campaign contributions and earmarks," Lincoln Center Vice President of
Public Relations Betsy Voice told Cybercast News Service in a written statement.
other private non-profit groups with Clinton earmarks had employees
that gave less than $1,000, while other organizations had a significant
number of employees that gave to Clinton in previous election cycles.
relationship between earmarks and campaign contributors is all too
common throughout Congress and can't be pinned on one member, said
CAGW's David Williams.
"This not only casts a perception, but
there are people in jail for this," Williams said, referencing
politicians who were proven to have granted earmarks in exchange for
campaign contributions or bribes. "If you're a member of Congress, this
is not the way you should do it. Any federal funding should go through
a competitive grant process."
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