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08.12.2011 0

‘Pay-to-play’ Clyburn appointed to super-committee

By Robert Romano – “This is like appointing Ben & Jerry’s to a committee on nutrition.” That was Americans for Limited Government’s take on House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s choice of Rep. James Clyburn to the deficit reduction super-committee.

On the day of the appointment, Americans for Limited Government released a report entitled “Pay-To-Play Politics” which anointed Clyburn as the “King of Schemes.”

“Clyburn has earmarked over $200 million over the past six years, making him the biggest congressional spender in South Carolina,” Wilson said.  “That includes a $3 million earmark to teach children to play golf after the center had renamed itself to the ‘James E. Clyburn Golf

Center,’ and built a statue in his honor.”

Other earmarks included $54.4 million for South Carolina universities in return for tens of thousands of campaign contributions and even a transportation center named after Clyburn, $2.1 million for the city of Charleston that his cousin lobbied for who gave Clyburn $3,250 in campaign money, and $1.3 million to Palmetto Health in return for $9,500 in contributions.

Of that, $40 million alone went to the South Carolina State University for the James E. Clyburn

University Transportation Center, where the congressman intends to house his official papers.

The U.S. Department of Transportation cut off funding, and a federal audit was unable to determine how tax dollars had been spent.  Like federal auditors, a local paper had difficulty making sense of SCSU’s finances. Records were disorganized and difficult to track down.44

Clyburn’s transportation center was also investigated by the state Legislative Audit Council. Thirteen years after receiving the initial money, the center has still not been completed.

“James Clyburn’s propensity for pay-to-play politics disqualifies him from serving on any committee tasked with reducing spending.  Clyburn’s role on the super-committee would be to protect what he spent decades fighting for: pork-barrel spending,” Wilson explained.

ALG has criticized the appointment of other super-committee members, including Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), who serves as the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chair.  And as recently revealed by the Wall Street Journal, almost immediately after being appointed, Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) began inviting Wall Street lobbyists to a fundraiser to tout his role on the super-committee.

“It seems clear that Clyburn, Murray, and Becerra are on this committee solely to raise money for Democrat political coffers,” Wilson said.

Wilson held out little hope that the committee would be able to cut enough spending to have the nation’s Triple-A credit rating restored by rating agencies like S&P.

S&P had said prior to the debt deal it wanted to see at least $4 trillion in reduced borrowing over the next decade.  Instead, the deal only found $917 billion, with the super-committee established to find another $1 trillion or so.  But with career spenders like Clyburn appointed, Wilson predicted that the U.S. would be in line for further credit downgrades.

Said Wilson, “Clyburn’s appointment tells the American people everything they need to know about the super-committee.  Its mission will not be to cut trillions of spending; it will be to protect Congress’ pay-to-play schemes.  What a farce.”

Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government.

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