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January 25, 2008

Pork Trips Landrieu?

Remember how the Democrats were going to change the "culture of corruption" in 2006? It looks like they can once again look to the beam in their own eye. Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported that Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has a brewing scandal after taking over $30,000 in contributions from a literacy-program provider within days of inserting an earmark favorable to the company. Landrieu now has opened her files in an effort to explain away the amazing coincidence:

A $2 million earmark for the D.C. schools from Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) has become an issue in her campaign for re-election after an ethics watchdog group called for federal and congressional investigations, reports The Post's James V. Grimaldi.

As reported in The Post's investigative series about the D.C. school system, Landrieu inserted the earmark in 2001 so school officials would buy a reading program from one of her major campaign contributors. School officials, who had other reading programs in mind, were initially resistant. ...

The $2 million earmark was guided into law by Landrieu in the fall of 2001, just after she had received more than $30,000 in campaign contributions at a fundraiser held by Best. Best told The Post that the idea for the fundraiser came in a call from Landrieu's office after he had met with the senator about getting funding for Voyager.

According to Voyager's founder, he proposed the fundraiser well after he had pitched the idea to Landrieu, but had not seen any action on the proposal. The DC school system didn't want the Voyager system, but that didn't stop Landrieu. After Best and Voyager contributed over $30,000 to her campaign on November 2nd, 2001, Landrieu inserted the earmark for Voyager's $2 million contract on November 6th.

For those with calculators, that represents an ROI of about 6600% for Voyager, at least in terms of gross revenue. Once could also cast it as a sale cost of 1.5%. Either way, it shows what an incredible bargain Landrieu represents in the politician-leasing market.

This is the reason so many of us push hard on pork-related reform. The taxpayers got stuck with a $2 million bill for a program its recipient didn't want, all so that a politician could get campaign funds and further entrench her incumbency. Pork corrupts, and it has to end.


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