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Sen. Lamar Alexander denounced the economic stimulus bill last year as pork-barrel politics at its worst. "This is spending, not stimulus," he said. But when it came time to dip his snout into the trough of cash, Alexander was right there elbowing for space.
An investigation by the Washington Times
turned up letters to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack from more than a dozen of the fiercest stimulus critics asking for money for local projects.
In a letter to Mr. Vilsack for a project applying for stimulus money, Mr. Alexander noted, "It is anticipated that the project will create over 200 jobs in the first year and at least another 40 new jobs in the following years."
Jim Jeffries, a spokesman for Mr. Alexander, said the senator believes his constituents have a right to apply for stimulus funds.
"Sen. Alexander voted against the stimulus because it was too much spending and too much debt for too little benefit to the economy," Mr. Jeffries said. "Republicans lost that fight and the money will be spent, and because Tennessee taxpayers will end up footing part of the bill, they have a right to apply for the funds."
Pete Sepp, vice president of the National Taxpayers Union, called that philosophy troubling.
"It's hard to expect lawmakers to behave like angels when this much money is being airdropped all over the country," Mr. Sepp said. "But the more strident the rhetoric, the worse it looks. For me, with these grants where they're saying a project is going to create a certain number of jobs, it makes you wonder: Do they really believe that? Or is it just part of a cynical cash grab?"