The Coconut Road Affair – How To Investigate A Crooked Earmark

“Somewhere along the way, something changed. Nobody knows for sure who did what.”- Sen. Tom Coburn

From ABC News:

Someone – before Congress mandated that earmarks enacted into law be made public, so we’re not sure who – someone changed language in the conference report to the 2006 transportation bill that redirected $10 million that had been designated to widen parts of I-75 to instead create the off-ramp.

Problem is the residents of Lee County in Naples, Florida didn’t want the off-ramp. The local government didn’t want the off-ramp and the local Congressman, Republican Connie Mack, says he didn’t request the off-ramp.

It was requested by a local business man – conveniently a political patron of Rep. Don Young, the powerful Alaska Republican that tried so hard to bring you the “Bridge to Nowhere” boondoggle that same year, and the lawmaker who wrote the bill.

Young has not directly admitted requesting the earmark, and despite Mack maintaining he didn’t request it either, offering he even worked to have the earmark reversed, there exists a letter from 2006 indicating Mack supported an off-ramp in that location.

Lawmakers put 6,300 earmarks worth $24 billion into what was ultimately signed by President George W. Bush. But only Coconut Road is still causing problems on Capitol Hill.

Republican anti-earmark crusader Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla, wants to appoint a bipartisan, bicameral panel with subpoena power to investigate the matter and he’s holding up action on the Senate floor demanding a vote on the proposal.

Senators have spent all week considering a “technical corrections” to the 2005 transportation bill. “Technical corrections” are supposed to dot i’s and cross t’s overlooked when the bill was originally passed, but Coburn says there should be a full accounting of the taxpayer money that was overlooked too.

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