Better not be getting the ranger any earmarks in exchange for that poster, Representative.
Last year, Rep. Norm Dicks attached 61 of the much-vilified earmarks to 12 different appropriations bills. Totaling $81 million, those earmarks mean the Belfair Democrat is second only to Patty Murray in bringing home Congressional bacon, according to a database maintained by the earmark watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense. Some of the money went to planting trees in urban areas and diabetes research. But for-profit corporations also got a slice. Bremerton company Dimension4 received $4 million to make visual representations of torpedo tests. Seattle-based Giant Campus got another $1.6 million to create online technology training courses for Ft. Lewis soldiers.
But now Dimension4 and Giant Campus are getting kicked off the federal gravy train, ironically, by Dicks. The Olympian reports today that the Representative has helped write a new policy banning corporations from receiving the very cash he was so adept at getting them in years past.
Earmarks have become a liability for Dicks, who recently took over the Defense Appropriations subcommittee. Over the last several months, a House Ethics Committee investigated him, along with six other Representatives, on accusations they had promised defense contractors and their lobbyists federal dollars in exchange for campaign contributions (aka bribery). According to the Washington Post, from 2007 to 2008, Dicks steered $20 million to the clients of the now-defunct defense contractor lobbying firm PMA.
Dicks spokesperson George Behan notes that House Republicans have called for a one-year moratorium on all earmarks "hoping, obviously that it will give them some political advantage."
If the Republican's posturing works, that could be a problem for Dicks, who faces a challenge, for the fourth time, from Gig Harbor Lawyer Doug Cloud. Dicks beat Cloud with 67 percent of the vote in 2008, but that was before the stigma of an ethics investigation.