Florida representatives receive low marks from taxpayer watchdog group
The nonpartisan taxpayer watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste has given several Florida representatives low marks when it comes to protecting the interests of the taxpayers they aim to represent.
The group’s recently-released Congressional Pig Book Summary is a compilation of many of the past year’s various pork-barrel projects and earmarks. The 2010 summary identifies several Florida representatives as pork-barrel spenders, including Ander Crenshaw, R-Jacksonville, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Robert Putnam — a retiring representative who is currently running for Florida agricultural commissioner.
According to the report, Nelson was responsible for more than $17 million in earmarks for 41 projects on the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill, including “$250,000 for turtle protection funding and a Gulf of Mexico grouper fishery program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; $200,000 for the National Coral Reef Institute at Nova Southeastern University; and $50,000 for a Gulf of Mexico recreational fishery electronic logbook pilot program at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.”
Nelson was also part of a group of representatives responsible for $700,000 in earmarks for shrimp industry fishing research by the Southern Shrimp Alliance. Other Floridians listed in the group included House appropriators Allen Boyd, D-Tallahassee, Crenshaw and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, D-Pembroke Pines.
Another pork-barrel politician, according to the summary, is Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Bartow, who earmarked $100,000 for the Florida Department of Citrus in Lakeland for an abscission chemical for improved citrus harvesting.
From the report:
Rep. Putnam is retiring from Congress and running for Florida Agriculture Commissioner. According to his campaign website, he worked in his family’s citrus and cattle business prior to being elected to Congress. It appears that Rep. Putnam is steering money to an industry that he and his family benefit from as well as one that he will oversee as Commissioner of Agriculture. It appears that every parochial or personal interest is ripe enough for Congress to squeeze money from the taxpayers.
The Pig Book Summary reveals Crenshaw to be responsible for more than $26 million in earmarks to the 2010 Military Construction, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. The report says the money was to be used for a fitness facility at Mayport Naval Station:
The Jacksonville Snap Fitness Center is 10.5 miles from Mayport Naval Station, and offers membership for $44.95 a month. With the amount of money earmarked by Rep. Crenshaw, more than 48,800 year-long memberships could be purchased at Snap Fitness. According to GlobalSecurity.org, 60,400 active-duty personnel, family members, retirees, and civilian employees reside at Mayport Naval Station.
Crenshaw received a 40 percent rating as part of CAGW’s 2009 congressional ratings.
Troy Stanley, Crenshaw’s opponent in the general election, was harsh on earmarking in a Monday morning press release: “We must work to bring federal government spending under control. An effective representative will not work to return ‘a fair share’ of your tax dollars to the district for pet projects but rather work to keep it in your pocket.”