Rep. Ortiz May Face Conflict of Interest on Earmarks

Friday, 22 Oct 2010 11:25 AM

By Dan Weil

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The troublesome issue of earmarks has reared its ugly head again. Rep. Solomon Ortiz, D-Texas, has secured earmarks worth tens of millions of dollars that may have helped a security firm he founded, The Hill reports.

Ortiz, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Solomon Ortiz, conflict of interest, earmarks, millionsCommittee, guided federal grants to the Port of Corpus Christi, which is in his district and represents the nation’s fifth largest port.

Over the past 13 years, the port has hired Ortiz’s former firm, Amtex Global Services, for contracts ranging $900,000 to more than $1 million a year. And Ortiz continues to receive money from the company for the sale of his stake in it. Ortiz sold his 55 percent position in 2003 after media reports raised conflict-of-interest issues.

In a statement, Ortiz’ office denied any wrongdoing. But Meredith McGehee, policy director of the Campaign Legal Center, says “Whether or not they can afford to make those payments to him would rest on their continued viability. … Then he does have a financial interest [in the earmarks].”

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