Prompted by this week’s Washington Post story uncovering how federal funds were earmarked for projects in which the earmarking member of Congress had a personal financial interest, Scott Brown has issued a press release on the subject of earmarks. He wants us to know that he refuses to sponsor any earmarks, that he is a co-sponsor of legislation to ban earmarks permanently because they are insidious, and that he is disappointed that Elizabeth Warren does not share his views.
The release goes on to quote a November 2011 interview with Warren in which she said that earmarks “are creating some real problems,” but she is not prepared to disarm unilaterally: “so long as we live in an earmark system, it is part of the job of each delegation to protect its home state. That’s how the game works.”
The Senator’s release does not disclose if Warren was even asked about bills that would ban earmarks, but assumes she would oppose such legislation. He finds it profoundly dispiriting that she would think that bringing federal money to Massachusetts was part of her job.
Now, the funny thing is that Warren’s comments sound exactly like the position Scott Brown took on the earmark question in 2006, when he told the Boston Globe, “I’ll do whatever I can to bring any money to my district.” He was speaking about a bill that the legislature had just passed providing millions of dollars for local projects, including $1.5 million for athletic fields in Brown’s home town of Wrentham.
And in annual state budget process, Senator Brown’s present rectitude on the subject of earmarks was not on display. A sampling:
In 2007, he asked for $60,000 to install security fencing around a landfill in the town of Millis;
in 2008, he asked for $175,000 for an economic development program for Needham Heights, $100,000 for the eradication of invasive aquatic weeds in Lake Cochituate and $50,000 the eradication of invasive aquatic weeds in the town of Wayland; and
in 2009, he asked for $175,000 for the town of Norfolk to mitigate the burden of hosting the Bay State Correctional Center.
Senator Brown may be right that working to ban earmarks will earn him our trust and support. But it would also help if he were to offer an explanation of his new position in light of his prior actions. State earmarks good, federal earmarks bad? 2006 earmarks good, 2012 earmarks bad?
And until earmarks are banned, will he really refuse to ask for federal dollars for projects in Massachusetts? The town of Wrentham really likes those athletic fields, after all.
(Cross posted at BlueMassGroup.)