10.01.2008 0

Mr. James Goes to Washington

  • On: 10/14/2008 10:31:48
  • In: Government Transparency
  • We thought Jessie James rode a horse. But apparently he now sits in a House office building. And instead of robbing banks, he bankrolls robbers.

    Enter Representative James Clyburn (D-SC), the Majority Whip. He has come under fire in the past week for revelations by The Sun News, based out of Myrtle Beach, that some of his earmarks have directly benefited friends, business associates, political allies, family members—and anybody else he apparently has taken a special liking to. The November 2007 Citizens Against Government Waste “Porker of the Month” winner is at it again. And for this year, he has doled out even more favors to his cronies and clan, bringing the grand total up to $6.2 million:

    •  $229,000 goes to the Charles R. Drew Wellness Center, which (coincidentally, no doubt) employs Angela Clyburn, the congressman’s daughter. The center received a $990,000 earmark in 2003. Now that’s keeping it in the family!
    •  A total of $952,000 has gone to the South Sumter Resource Center since 2001. Again, quite coincidentally, sister-in-law Gwendolyn Clyburn is an employee of one of the satellite organizations the center runs, and brother Charles Clyburn used to work for the center.
    •  $131,000 is sent to the non-profit group College Summit—which (surprise, surprise!) is run by Rep. Clyburn’s close political ally, Jamie Harrison, who served as a former aide to the congressman.

    Also included in the current budget was $784,000 for Charleston’s African American Museum—where Rep. Clyburn’s nephew, Darrick Ballard, works as an architect. The earmark is for “planning and design.” Rep. Clyburn knew of his nephew’s work there, as the hiring of Ballard prompted Clyburn’s resignation from the museum’s board back in March, so as to avoid the appearance of impartiality.

    (One can only imagine the conversation he had with his nephew at the last board meeting: “Now Darrick, I am going to be resigning from the board to evade any damaging rumors, but you be sure and remind me what company you work for once I get back in Washington, so I don’t send government earmarks to the wrong place. Wouldn’t want that, now would we?”)

    Looking into the recent past reveals even more questionable Clyburn connection to apparent graft and corruption.

    • In 2005, Clyburn gave money to the Five Rivers Community Development Corporation—for a convention center on which his nephew would have worked. Fifteen felony charges have since been laid against the corporation’s executives. Among the violations: Promises to pay Rep. Clyburn’s brother, Charles Clyburn, a “percentage” of the earmark money he obtained by lobbying for the convention center.
    • Back in 2003-04, the representative earmarked $1.3 million for the transportation center for Horry County, whose director was a business associate of the congressman. The director, Benedict Shogaolu, is now serving out his prison sentence for felony corruption charges.

    Now keep in mind that this is all coming from a United States Representative, who is the number three person in the Democratic House. And this is the same House that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) promised would be the “most honest and open Congress in history.” Right. “Honest” as in “Why, of course he’s my nephew.” And “open” as in, “Let me open this tax box and dole out some earmarks for you.”

    We have some news for Speaker Pelosi: Allowing your top lieutenants to blow taxpayer dollars on pork-barrel projects—with embarrassing, transparent connections to family members, political cronies, buddies, and corrupt business partners—is not honest or open. It’s fraudulent and felonious.

    Don’t be surprised if the 110th Congress goes down in history as the “Gang that couldn’t Govern Straight.” Welcome to Washington, Mr. James.

    ALG Perspective: ALG News would like to offer a hat-tip to David Wren, the investigative journalist at The Sun News for his skill in consistently exposing unethical—nay, immoral—use of taxpayer monies by those placed in power to be stewards of it. America needs more reporters like him.

    The fact that two of the earmarked groups later came under investigation for fraud is significant. Government officials are far too free with the people’s money. Many of these inefficient non-profits would be unable to stand on their own without increasing backroom government dole. This serves as yet another illustration of the absurdity of ascribing efficiency to government.

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