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December 27, 2005
Hillary And Chuck Line Up Defense Pork For Contributors

The New York Sun reports this morning that their two senators, Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton, really know how to put the quid in quid pro quo. While Schumer in particular vehemently protested attaching an authorization for ANWR drilling to the Defense Department appropriation bill, he and Hillary both stuck spending amendments that directly benefitted serious contributors to their election coffers:

Senators Clinton and Schumer are asking the Pentagon to spend $123 million of its wartime budget for New York projects that the Department of Defense didn't ask for - but that in many cases are linked to the senators' campaign contributors. ...

Two New York congressmen sit on the House Armed Services Committee: Rep. John McHugh, a Republican of Watertown, and Rep. Steven Israel, a Democrat of Long Island. Many of the companies and executives who won earmarks this year donated money not only to Senator Clinton, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and to Mr. Schumer, but also to Mr. Israel. And several of those designated for earmarks gave to members of the Joint Defense Appropriations Conference Committee, which wrote the New York projects into the defense spending bill.

Highlights of the earmarks announced by the Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Schumer include:

* $5 million in taxpayer money to STIDD Systems in Greenport, a company whose president and chief executive officer, Walter Gezari, gave $2,500 to the Friends of Hillary political action committee in May. Mr. Gezari, whose company makes seating for military vessels, gave $25,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee in March. He has donated $108,350 to federal politicians since 1998. Federal lobbying records show that his company spent $400,000 lobbying Congress this year.

* $1.8 million in taxpayer money to EDO Corporation, an Amityville defense contractor that makes aircraft equipment. The company's political action committee has given $17,000 to Mr. Israel over the past four years and $15,000 to Rep. John Murtha, a Democrat of Pennsylvania who is the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Defense. EDO's political action committee also gave $1,000 to Mr. Schumer's campaign committee and $853.44 to Boulevard Caterers in Farmingdale for food at a fundraiser for Mr. Schumer. The company spent $1,145 on food for one of Mr. Israel's fund-raisers in April 2001.

* $8 million in taxpayer money to a publicly traded defense contracting firm, DRS Technologies, and its electronic warfare and network systems program in western New York. The firm's political action committee gave $8,000 to Friends of Schumer and $30,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, of which Mr. Schumer is the chair. DRS, which is based in Parsippany, N.J., gave Mrs. Clinton's political action committee $2,000 in May through its DRS Technologies, Incorporated Good Government Fund.

* $2 million in taxpayer money to a Buffalo nanotechnology firm, Nano-Dynamics, Incorporated. Its chairman, Allan Rothstein, contributed $4,400 to the Friends of Hillary political action committee over the past year. Its chief executive officer, Keith Blakely, gave $2,000 to Mr. Schumer's campaign on October 26, 2004, as did the company's president, Richard Berger, and its vice president, Glenn Spacht. Mr. Spacht's contribution to Mr. Schumer was the only political donation he made to a federal campaign last year, according to records at the Federal Election Commission.

* $3.5 million in taxpayer money to SuperPower, Incorporated, a Schenectady subsidiary of Latham-based Intermagnetics General Corporation SuperPower's president, Philip Pellegrino, gave $3,000 last year to a political action committee operated by Intermagnetics that, in turn, gave $2,000 to Mrs. Clinton this year; $1,000 to Mr. Murtha; and $1,000 to Mr. Stevens.

* $2 million in taxpayer money to Plug Power, Incorporated, a Latham developer of fuel cell technology for redundant power supplies. The company's president, Roger Saillant, has given $2,000 to the Friends of Hillary committee over the past two years, and $3,000 to the Friends of Schumer committee over the past four.

Earmarking funds forces the DoD to spend their money specifically on these resources instead of other pressing issues -- such as logistics and supplies to Iraq and perhaps protecting New York from another terrorist attack. Porkbusting has focused on this tactic recently, but in light of the screeching over Stevens' bid to attach ANWR, this string of sellouts to contributors appears unbelievably hypocritical on Schumer and Clinton's parts.

Since Schumer had such a problem with Stevens' approach, the two Senators should explain each of these items in detail to help us understand how this improves American defense and makes our men and women fighting abroad any safer. That, after all, was the heart of the anti-ANWR wailing last week -- that the DoD budget was somehow sacrosanct and should be above political machinations. Instead, we find out that the New York Congressional contingent finds it a perfect vehicle to pay off their major backers for the cash contributions they made.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 27, 2005 6:30 AM

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