By on February 2, 2009

The taxpayer advocacy group Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) has named U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray H. LaHood its “January 2009 Porker of the Month.” “In his new position, Secretary LaHood will preside over the distribution of tens of billions of tax dollars for transportation projects in the stimulus package that is moving forward in Congress,” the group said in a statement. “As a member of Congress from Illinois between 1995 and 2009, then-Rep. LaHood made the most of his seat on the House Appropriations Committee and over time became adept at spending more and more of the taxpayers’ money… For his long-standing disregard for the taxpayers’ money and an abundance of concern over how he will administer the Department of Transportation, CAGW names Ray LaHood January Porker of the Month.”


The group pointed to the fifty-two legislative earmarks for which LaHood took credit last year, totaling $58.9m in spending. For example, he diverted $448,000 in federal tax dollars to the Lakeview Museum Planetarium in Peoria, Illinois.

According to The Washington Post‘s, LaHood’s campaign contributors are beneficiaries of his adroitness in the earmark department. Peoria-based Caterpillar tendered LaHood’s campaign $190k while receiving $7.8m in earmarks. The road-building company United Contractors Midwest and the Illinois Asphalt Pavement Association were also among LaHood’s top campaign donors. In return, LaHood secured $2m in paving earmarks on their behalf. And those are just ’08’s totals.

LaHood defends earmarks as part of the normal legislative process.

“The reason I went to the Appropriations Committee, the reason other people go on the Appropriations Committee, is they know that it puts them in a position to know where the money is at, to know the people who are doling the money out and to be in the room when the money is being doled out,” LaHood told the Rockford Register Star in a February 2, 2008, article.

CAGW issues annual ratings that score members of Congress on their spending restraint. In his last year of office, LaHood rated 11 out of 100.

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24 Comments on “New U.S. Transport Sec. Ray LaHood Named “Porker of the Month”...”


  • avatar
    cruzmisl

    Not trying to flame , but some of the political stuff that finds its way on here makes me scratch my head as to why I’m reading it here instead of sites like politico.

  • avatar
    Casual Observer

    cruzmisl – the governments of the U.S., Germany, Sweden, and England are becoming the world’s most influential auto designers and builders. It is important to know what they are up to.

  • avatar
    montgomery burns

    I really don’t get all the frothing rage over earmarks. These people are doing exactly what they were elected to do. Bring home the bacon. I don’t recall anyone getting elected based on what they didn’t do for their state/district.

    Whenever I read in the paper that our guys have gotten a highway project or whatever funded, they’re heros. When it’s other states they’re zeros.

    Having said that, I do wish that these things were separate bills or perhaps part of omnibus bills of smaller projects so that there was a little more transparency.

  • avatar

    And who are Citizens Against Government Waste, you ask?

    A corporate front group that lobbies for deregulation. Ever see the movie A Civil Action where the company W.R. Grace poisons a shitload of Massachusetts residents who live near one of their tanneries then gets sued for it? W.R. Grace is one of the founding members and main contributors to the coffers of, Citizens Against Government Waste.

    Here, don’t take my word for it –

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Citizens_Against_Government_Waste

    and

    http://www.oreillynet.com/xml/blog/2005/09/you_know_citizens_against_gove.html

  • avatar
    jkross22

    @montgomery burns:

    The rage comes from frustration and disappointment of elected officials throwing money around to projects that have big impact on a very small number of people at the expense of improving things on a grander scale.

    Considering the tolls, taxes and fees the citizens of IL. are forced to pay, Chicago should be Oz.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    @jrderego :

    Shoot the messenger?

  • avatar
    Viceroy_Fizzlebottom

    “Considering the tolls, taxes and fees the citizens of IL. are forced to pay, Chicago should be Oz.”

    Amen to that. Highest sales tax, highest gasoline prices, and what do we have to show for it?

    Absolutely nothing

  • avatar

    @jkross22

    Not shooting the messenger, but CAGW are looking out for the executives of ginormous corporations often at the expense of everyone else. Hasn’t the last 8 years of this deregulation fetish enough? These are the same clowns that rail against the FDA, and have such lobbying power that they have rendered that regulatory body virtually useless.

    I’ll have to research more but I’d bet that the CAGW and it’s associated funding streams would like nothing more than to dismantle the Department of Transportation and privatize the road and rail infrastructure.

    The sad thing in that here in the US everyone wants so badly to protect the super rich because someday they expect to be one of the super rich. That thinking makes it so easy for groups like CAGW to collectively bend us over.

    Sadder, we bend over willingly.

  • avatar
    yankinwaoz

    The horror! Spending tax dollars on transportation infrastructure. What is next? Wasting money on education?

  • avatar
    dancote

    This guy’s a piker. %58,900,000 a year?

    How about the former President and V.P. who squandered $8,000,000,000 to $12,000,000,000 per month and thousands of lives on the war in Iraq?

  • avatar
    rm

    @jrderego:

    The article deals with the fact that he took campaign contributions and then used his influence in gov’t to essentially award the donors contracts. What in the world does that have to do with deregulation? Other than this guy can be bought and sold to either regulate or deregulate the marketplace…

    What I see are private entities using campaign contributions to elected officials in the hopes of some return on their investment in the form of public dollars. It may be how the game is played, but that doesn’t make it right.

  • avatar
    Jesse

    @ cruzmisl:

    I have been wondering the same thing.

  • avatar
    geeber

    jrderego: Hasn’t the last 8 years of this deregulation fetish enough? These are the same clowns that rail against the FDA, and have such lobbying power that they have rendered that regulatory body virtually useless.

    The Bush Administration has approved the greatest number of regulations since the Nixon Administration.

    If that constitutes “deregulation”, I’d hate to see what some people consider to be stiff regulation.

  • avatar
    RichardD

    @ cruzmisl, Jesse

    If you intend to drive a car the way it’s intended to be driven, perhaps you should pay attention to the political stuff. E.g. Return of 55?

    @ jrderego

    LaHood is already continuing the policy of “deregulating” DOT into a toll road facilitation business. His campaign donors, no doubt, are pleased.
    http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/26/2664.asp

    @ geeber

    Exactly.

  • avatar
    DearS

    Lets put things in perspective…

    We have been naive, our expectations have been formed by conforming to an image society has ingrained in us over a long time. People are much more willing to do evil ie. immoral things than we imagined. Society is pretty messed up in a lot of ways. We are going to have a hard time making sense of what is going on. How we think things should work, may not be realistic or practical or “right”. A lot of people out there are experts at manipulating and marketing BS. Much more so than we might imagine is even possible. We do not know ourselves as well as we thought. We are already set up to go through a lot of emotional pain coming out of denial ie. the truth will seem to hurt. Everything a person does in selfish in one way or another. Everyone has issues and may be doing or willing to do things worse than we expect to control us ie. get what they want. We need to detach and make assessments that are more inline with the truth. We need to face the truth ie. we need to go through pain so we can let go of trying to make the world what we feel it “should” be. So we can have a more honest, clear and relatively balanced perspective. We need to be able to put things in pespective, so we need to honest with ourselves. We need to accept our nature. We need to know ourselves, our interests, our expectations. We need to honor how our expectations relate to our well being. We need to get more honest. We need to detach from ourselves and our interests and process. We need to make an assessment of ourselves. Why are we were we are now? What is our duty to ourselves? What can we do and what can we not do as single independent individuals?

    We are all co-defendants…

    you may want to visit…..Joy2meu.com…..your welcome.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    @yankinwaoz:

    Hey, I’m all for investing money in infrastructure and education, but not okay with it being wasted on unions that, eerily similar to the UAW, spend the preponderance of their time and member’s dues on politicizing issues rather than resolving problems.

    LAUSD spends more per student than 90% of the school districts in the country yet still has a dropout rate exceeding 40%.

    Better leadership is needed, and throwing more money at the problem only makes the problem larger.

  • avatar
    DearS

    It is what it is, we are all independent individuals. Its important to know where we end and another begins. Which means getting to know ourselves. We can only change ourselves, We cannot make another follow or lead them somewhere they are not willing to go. We need to become leaders, which means giving ourselves opportunities to grow and offering others the opportunities to follow. Which means sharing our hearts and minds. We can only do that, we cannot lead another to follow us and/or do we want though. Only offer them the opportunity to follow, again by sharing were we are at. Our future leaders will reflect the overall wisdom of those that choose said individual. We all can offer another our truth, were we stand. Then let go of the outcome, honor our convictions, and live our lives. That is all.

    A lot of folks share in a manipulative way, knowing the impulses of many folk. We need to have faith in the nature of others. They are more similar then different, ie. they share our interests. Still they might not understand how to work towards those interests and actually work against them. But like they say, you don’t know what you got till you lost it. Offer, let go, they lose, they learn, eventually. I guess.

    Know I need to cry cause I lost some good cars.

  • avatar
    carlos.negros

    cruzmisl wrote: “. . .some of the political stuff that finds its way on here makes me scratch my head . . .”

    Me too. It makes me wonder if the site receiving funding from a GOP front organization.

    RF, would you please confirm that you aren’t funded by the GOP, Richard Mellon Scaife, or Rupert Murdoch?

  • avatar

    Carlos.negros

    Confirmed. I don’t work for any political organization.

  • avatar
    carlos.negros

    RF, Thank you for the swift confirmation.

  • avatar
    carlos.negros

    What exactly is wrong with a Planetarium? There is one in my home town. It is a major draw for schoolkids interested in space exploration. Why is this a worse way to invest than buying a new jet for Citigroup? Or, for that matter, why is it worse than giving a billion to faith-based initiatives? Did the WR Grace Company, Microsoft, Exxon-Mobil, or Phillip Morris have problems with these programs? I doubt it.

  • avatar
    kamikaze2b

    This site needs some forums.

  • avatar
    Kurt.

    In this month issue of American Motorcyclist, the AMA membership magazine, a reader points out that his area has 300+ miles of roadways paid for by local government. Their budget is $1.8m annually. It costs $105,000 to pave one mile, so they can pave 17 miles per year. Assfault has a life expectancy of 7 to 10 years (we all know it is 3 to 5) so that puts the roads in his area on a 21 year repaving cycle.

    I bring all this up because although I dislike how some members of Congress get more for their constituents than others, it is why we sent them there. The important thing for us to do is hold them accountable for the spending of that money once in comes (back) to us.

  • avatar
    geeber

    carlos.negros: What exactly is wrong with a Planetarium? There is one in my home town.

    Absolutely nothing.

    The correct question is whether the federal government should be paying for them.

    The correct answer is that if the residents of your town enjoy it, they can also pay for it.

    carlos.negros: Why is this a worse way to invest than buying a new jet for Citigroup?

    That’s an argument against bailouts without sufficient conditions attached, not an argument for federal funding of planetariums.

    carlos.negros: Or, for that matter, why is it worse than giving a billion to faith-based initiatives?

    Because the organizations that receive funds must meet specific guidelines, and can only use the money to provide services that meet critical needs in the community. Planetariums are nice, but the last time I checked, they aren’t critical to the needs of a community.

    Please compare apples to apples next time.


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