A little pay-for-play in Harry Reid’s earmarks?

posted at 11:36 am on September 20, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

At Liberty Central, Melissa Clouthier finds some highly coincidental spending requests in Harry Reid’s earmark requests for FY2011. Arcata Associates and its owners have spent a lot of money helping Reid retain his Senate seat, and all of that effort appears to have paid off in a couple of earmarks Reid has proposed for the still-nonexistent FY2011 budget.  In fact, it looks as though an investment of $130,000 has helped Arcata get a $1.36 million earmark in FY2010’s budget and a $3 million earmark next year:

It appears that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to reward Arcata Associates, a big Democratic donor, a huge no-bid contract on the heels of two separate $10,000 (maximum) donation to the Nevada Democrat party.

Senator Harry Reid, along with his House cohort Nancy Pelosi, promised to drain the swamp when they took full control of Congress. Their behavior since taking office would indicate the exact opposite has happened.

In fiscal year 2010, Arcata won a 1.36 million dollar contract for the Continuous Threat Alert Sensing System (CTASS) according to OpenSecrets.org after spending $50,000 to lobby the Senate. What the site fails to mention are the multitude of Arcata donations to Harry Reid and the Nevada Democrat Party. In addition, Arcata stands to gain another two million dollars in 2011, also a no-bid earmark directed by Senator Reid. The requests for these earmarks can be found here and here.

The Wong family, owners of Arcata Associations, have a long history of donating generously to Harry Reid. Their donations are over $130,000. Here is a PDF of all the donations.

Reid and others in Congress defend the earmarking process by claiming that the Constitution vests Congress with the authority to appropriate funds, not the executive branch, and that earmarks more closely represent the intentions of the founders.  That’s absurd on several levels, but let’s focus on one pragmatic consequence of the earmarking process for this example.  The executive branch agencies have bid processes for purchasing systems and services, which in theory at least create competition and better outcomes and reduce bias in procurement.  Earmarks bypass the bid process entirely.  Arcata Associates doesn’t have to worry about competitors producing a better product, because Reid has in effect already picked the winner.

It’s just another example of Congress refusing to live by the same rules and regulations they impose on others.  In this case, that has big implications for waste, fraud, inefficiency, low quality procurements, and corruption.

In North Carolina’s 2nd CD, we can see another aspect of the earmark/endorsement complex.  As challenger Renee Ellmers pointed out over the weekend, Rep. Bob Etheridge gained the endorsement of Four Oaks Mayor Linwood Parker in campaign ad that doesn’t quite explain Parker’s enthusiasm for Etheridge:

Bob Etheridge is now running a TV ad where several of his supporters praise him – but what the ad doesn’t explain is at least two of the Etheridge supporters received ‘Stimulus Fund’ checks, thanks to Etheridge.

Mr. Linwood Parker is an example. Mr. Parker is a partner in a development near Four Oaks and back in August Etheridge handed him a $340,000 check – stimulus funds. Now, in return Mr. Parker has endorsed Bob Etheridge in his TV ad, saying, “Congressman Etheridge did not allow politics to stand in the way of job creation.”

Of course, the fact is, Etheridge’s grant to Parker (and Parker’s endorsement) was nothing but politics.

Here’s the picture of Etheridge handing the ceremonial check to Parker from the Porkulus earmark:

Pay close attention to the name on the check, where the account owner’s name usually goes.  It’s hard to read, but it says “Congressman Bob Etheridge,” not “The American Taxpayer.”  Etheridge considered Porkulus money as his own piggy bank to buy support in his home district, which is exactly why we called the Obama-Pelosi stimulus bill “Porkulus” in the first place.

Update: Here is the complete research on Reid’s pay-for-play pork politics.

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Illustrated comment.

Shy Guy on September 20, 2010 at 11:41 AM

The war election is lost.

itsnotaboutme on September 20, 2010 at 11:41 AM

Like most demorats in this election, Reid knows he cannot win a honest election. The race card and class jealously will be played, of course, but even those old hate and divide mainstays are watered down to where Reid has to buy or steal the elction. If the Nevada election can be stolen, Reid will find a way. It is hard to get rid of scum once it is in place.

volsense on September 20, 2010 at 11:46 AM

To the shills featured in Etheridge’s ad, I have one question:

Who aire ewe?

Cicero43 on September 20, 2010 at 11:49 AM

Purge the radicals…

d1carter on September 20, 2010 at 11:50 AM

Q to Etheridge: Have you stopped beating up your constituent’s kids yet?

Fuquay Steve on September 20, 2010 at 11:51 AM

Buying elections with our money one voter at a time.

Kissmygrits on September 20, 2010 at 11:54 AM

Should be the texbook example why earmarks should be illegal

tarpon on September 20, 2010 at 11:54 AM

Earmarks are hard when you are standing on the sidelines. harry red can go screw himself.

VegasRick on September 20, 2010 at 11:54 AM

$130k = $1.36M?

There’s that Keynesian Government Multiplier we’ve been looking for…

jamie gumm on September 20, 2010 at 12:00 PM

That’s just wong…

KeepOhioRed on September 20, 2010 at 12:03 PM

The Wong family, owners of Arcata Associations, have a long history of donating generously to Harry Reid. Their donations are over $130,000. Here is a PDF of all the donations.

They supported the wong candidate. :<)

They donated $130,000 to secure a $1.36 million contract? That's just about 10%. As a Mormon, does Harry Reid believe in tithing–to himself?

Steve Z on September 20, 2010 at 12:25 PM

Ron Paul supporters come to the defense of earmarks in 3…2…

catmman on September 20, 2010 at 12:26 PM

It’s hard to read, but it says “Congressman Bob Etheridge,” not “The American Taxpayer CHICOMS.”


mankai on September 20, 2010 at 12:40 PM

And if this had been a Republican…

Skywise on September 20, 2010 at 12:58 PM

This is really disgusting, but we know if the Rep. were the majority, they would be doing the same thing, you know some are doing it as the minority.

It is a hard balancing act to bring home the bacon, and be fiscally conservative. If you dont bring home the bacon, then the local tax dollars are going to others districts. Maybe if they start getting booted out for doing just that, then more will stop doing it.

WoosterOh on September 20, 2010 at 1:27 PM

I’m not sure how anyone could say with a straight face that this is not either bribery or extortion. Reid is taking our tax dollars, and giving them to an associate, who then kicks back a portion as a ‘donation’.

Vashta.Nerada on September 20, 2010 at 1:28 PM

Back in 2004 the Seattle Post Intelligencer did some real journalism and examined every earmark and spending bill for a span of several congresses. The investigative journalists found that, with few exceptions, the beneficiaries of said federal monies donated or funneled a minimum of 10% back to the politicians or their staff, friends and family.
The republicans were just as guilty as the democrats but some of the democrats were in the 20%+ rate of return.
This combine is systemic and standard procedure.
That is why anyone the leadership of the GOP puts up must be replaced at the primary level with a citizen who will not participate and/or provide cover for this mafia.

Beto Ochoa on September 20, 2010 at 1:46 PM

Unemployment in NV now is officially 14.4%.

Schadenfreude on September 20, 2010 at 1:55 PM

My liberal friends/family keep trying to paint corporations as evil for lobbying Congress and getting loopholes. This points out the hypocrisy of that.

The ONLY way to stop this is to get the money out of DC. Turn all non-Federal responsibilities over to the states, cut the income tax, get rid of corporate tax altogether (we all pay that as individuals in higher prices, etc) and send the lobbyists back to their home states.

PastorJon on September 20, 2010 at 2:23 PM


You didn’t fix that. The account owner (where Etheridge’s name appears on that check) is the one paying out the money. The recipient is the payee. Also, the Etheridge pork deal wasn’t with the Wong family, Reid’s was.

Ed’s point is that all government money is from the taxpayers, and for Congresscritters to take a photo-op proving their arrogance, in wanting folks to think they (the Congresscritter) are being generous in handing out our (the taxpayer’s) money, proves why they must go.

Freelancer on September 20, 2010 at 2:50 PM

Liberal crooks stealing our money – just another day in the swamp – hey, they only wanted to drain the swamp so they could sling the bottom mud in our faces while reaching into our pockets and stealing us blind.

Done That on September 20, 2010 at 2:51 PM

Reid reminds me of that kid in high school who never had a friend but you always wanted to sit next to during a test. How did such a nerdy twerp gain such power. I think he’s just trying to get back at all of us. What a country!!!

PaCadle on September 20, 2010 at 3:29 PM

What I find so amazing is that it is less than two months to the elections. Reid is so entrenched in corruptness along with Pelosi and the list goes on that they find it hard to stop. Drain the swamp this election.

Wills on September 21, 2010 at 8:17 AM