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By Anonymous Mike, pseudonymously.



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Thursday, July 26, 2007
 
Giffords and Earmarks

I must have missed this from the AZ Republic; in the Daily Star Giffords in About-Face, Releases Spending Plans

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords released Friday evening what she said was her complete list of federal "earmark" requests after refusing to do so last week.

The list of 42 projects, totaling nearly $327 million, was posted on her congressional Web site, and includes a single request for a $187 million in guided missiles for the Army. Many of the earmarks, submitted for fiscal year 2008, are for projects in the Democrat's Southeast Arizona district.

The $187 million for the Javelin is a nice touch, especially as Rep. Giffords mentions on her Web site:

$187,200,000 was requested for the Javelin missile which is being used regularly in Iraq and Afghanistan. This request came from the Army’s official unfunded requirements list which contains the projects the Army would spend money on if it had addition resources, and in which order. This was one of the Army’s highest priorities.

Though the message is a little mixed:

Giffords spokesman C.J. Karamargin said the reason the bulk of her requests are for military spending is because she is on the Armed Services Committee and has two military installations — Fort Huachuca and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base — in her district.

This is either a misquote or C.J. is being a little thick because Huachuca is a signals post and Davis-Monthan is of course an air base and have little need for an anti-tank weapon. There does seem to be about $16 million worth of funding for Fort Huachuca; $5 million for an University of Arizona project to develop "Asymmetric Threat Response and Analysis Project (ATRAP) " in conjunction with the Army, another $5 million for an UAV sensor project, $5 million for the construction of a new base chapel, and about $1 million for San Pedro watershed studies.

He (Karamagin) said there is no contradiction between her vote Thursday for a troop withdrawal from Iraq and her support for military spending.

"Being in support of a strong defense is one thing. Questioning how the war is being conducted is something different," he said.

That's awfully sweet of him to say that and of course good politics for a freshman legislator. What he doesn't say is that Rep. Giffords support for Javelin and AMRAAM missile purchases that were not funded by the regular appropriations process isn't just good for national defense, but also good for her district. Raytheon manufactures both missiles in Tucson.

What a coincidence.

Let's amend the above comment from the paper:

Giffords spokesman C.J. Karamargin said the reason the bulk of her requests are for military spending is because she is on the Armed Services Committee, has two military installations — Fort Huachuca and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base — in her district, and has a large defense contractor that needs some sugar.

In other words it's not so much about national defense but looking out for her district. Nothing wrong with that, but there is a difference.

As for the rest of the requests, two stand out:

Tucson Buses and Bus Maintenance Facility
$10,000,000 was requested to purchase cleaner-burning fuel replacement buses and upgrade the bus maintenance facility.

I never knew Tucson buses had such a large role in inter-state commerce. However my favorite is this:

Tucson Convention Center Solar Energy Project
$1,000,000 was requested that will be used to help install a photovoltaic solar panel array on the Tucson Convention Center (TCC) complex. This project will offset traditional electricity usage, saving $65,000 annually

Spend a million to save $65,000 per year (let alone current dollar value and other metrics)? Only in Washington!