An investigation by The Washington Post
has found that 33 members of Congress from both parties have secured $300 million for federal spending projects near property the members own. Under congressional rules, the practice is legal, the Post reported.
To uncover the spending, the Post examined public records of all 535 members of Congress and compared them with earmarks individual members made for projects since about 2008. The examination found that the federal spending was on projects near homes of the members or commercial property they or their families owned.
Additionally, the probe uncovered instances where 16 members of Congress sent tax dollars to “companies, colleges or community programs where their spouses, children or parents work as salaried employees or serve on boards.”
In interviews with the Post, members defended the expenditures, explaining they originated with local officials seeking better roads, neighborhoods and economies and that personal benefit was secondary, the Post reported.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said a $900,000 earmark used to fix roads near his home in Bolton, Miss., was one of many to help his district.
“I didn’t say, ‘Do the street that I live on,’ ” Thompson told the Post. “The earmark went to the county. It had no designation on it whatsoever, and that was it.”
Maryland Republican Rep. Roscoe Bartlett’s spokeswoman, Lisa Wright, said that millions in road improvements secured by the congressman helped the district at large. “His personal benefit was no different than that of tens of thousands of his constituents,” she told the Post.
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