Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Former Massachusetts Democratic Congressman Makes Money Off of Projects He Earmarked

Proving Once Again Bi-Partisanship Reigns in Washington – Bipartisanship with Respect to Enriching Oneself Off of Government Service

When the decline of the American Republic known as the United States of America that began late in the second half of the 20th century and continued for, well we don’t know how long it will continue do we, is documented one of the main determinants of that decline will be the role of public service.  Basically it will be that public service evolved out of public service and into enrichment from public service.

Reading about things like the Jack Abramoff one might get the impression that the corruption of American government was a Republican dominated activity, but it is not.  The story of Tom Daschle, the former South Dakota Senator who once was a principled leader of the Democrats in the Senate and, when turned out of office became a chauffer-driven lobbyist is just one example of the bi-partisan nature of greed and corruption.

The fact that liberal Democrats can succumb to the desire to enrich themselves from their highly compensated electoral office is documented in the story of former Massachusetts Representative William Delahunt. 

Mr. Delahunt, a former district attorney who was known in Congress for embracing liberal causes, also became known over his time in Washington for bringing home federal money. He was particularly active in 2009, ranking in the top fifth of all House members, with more than $46 million in earmarks, including the Hull and Mashpee tribe grants,according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit research group in Washington.

On retiring in early 2011, he told home-state reporters that he was hesitant to go the typical route of lobbying.

Well the hesitancy didn’t last long, about five minutes after the money was dangled in front of him.

“Bill was an ally of small boat fishermen in Massachusetts, absolutely,” said John Pappalardo, chief executive of the group, the Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen’s Association.

After Mr. Delahunt left Congress, the fishermen’s group hired him “to get the lay of the land politically” about possible changes in federal and regional fishing policies, Mr. Pappalardo said. The group paid the Delahunt Group $14,000 last year for its work, according to lobbying records filed in Massachusetts.

And in another nice arrangement

The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, for instance, paid the Delahunt Group at least $40,000 to lobby for approval of a casino. Mr. Delahunt had secured Congressional earmarks for the tribe totaling $400,000 in 2008 and 2009 for a substance abuse program and other projects, the records show.

The city of Quincy, Mass., meanwhile, brought on Mr. Delahunt last year to help deal with federal officials on a downtown redevelopment program. In 2008, Mr. Delahunt secured nearly $2.4 million in earmarks for the city on a separate tidal restoration project.

But what makes the sordid story of Mr. Delahunt stand out from many of the other sordid stories like this is this.

So today, his firm, the Delahunt Group, stands to collect $90,000 or more for six months of work from the town of Hull, on Massachusetts Bay, with 80 percent of it coming from the pot of money he created through a pair of Energy Department grants in his final term in office, records and interviews show.

Yes, Mr. Delahunt arranged for a huge multi-million dollar earmark and then retired from Congress and then collected money from the earmark.

Mr. Delahunt’s financial connections to the energy project are much more direct, however.

“That’s not something I’ve ever heard of,” Kenneth A. Gross, a Washington lawyer who specializes in political ethics issues, said when asked about a former congressman receiving fees from earmarks he appropriated.

A strong, efficient, honest central government is needed if an advanced economy and society like the United States is to grow and prosper.  People like Mr. Delahunt damage that government and the people’s faith in it by their actions.  And that damage will be documented when the history of the period is written by real historians who will ask the unanswerable question, “Why would any free and democratic people allow government and their legislators to behave in this manner?”

As for Mr. Delahunt, here’s a profile in courage for everyone

Mr. Delahunt declined repeated requests for an interview last week.

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