UPDATE: The original version of this article incorrectly listed earmarks from Fiscal Year 2010 as requests in Fiscal Year 2011. TAI drew those numbers from the Taxpayers for Common Sense which listed the earmarks from the wrong year. The earmark totals in the updated version have been drawn from Paul’s website, where each individual request from both 2010 and 2011 may be viewed. We apologize for the the error.
U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) was one of only four House Republicans to break rank from the party and request earmarks despite a Republican Conference earmark moratorium. Paul sent 41 earmark requests totaling $157,093,544 for the 2011 Fiscal Year. His largest single request was $19,500,000 for a naval training ship at the Texas Maritime Academy in Galveston, followed by a $18,126,000 to provide maintenance on the Matagorda Ship Channel.
For Fiscal Year 2010, Paul requested 54 total earmarks, adding up to $398,460,640 in pork that the former presidential candidate sought to bring home to his district. These requests were made prior to the House Republican Conference’s voluntary ban on filing earmarks.
Paul’s largest request in 2010 was $51.5 million in federal money to be spent on “Reconstruction of Bluewater Highway Hurricane Evacuation Route Between Brazoria and Galveston Counties in Texas.” He requested another $50 million to be directed to the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and $46 million for deepening the Texas City channel. The majority of Paul’s requests were for projects related to various ports and channels, though other sectors of his district also received attention, such as $20 million for a hospital in Chambers County. Even smaller projects received attention from the libertarian representative, such as $2.5 million requested “to redevelop historic downtown area and to purchase trash cans, bike racks and decorative street lighting” in Baytown.
While Paul requested these earmarks, he can still claim to have voted against the spending. Here’s how he defended his earmarking habit when he was challenged during a Fox News interview in 2009:
I think you’re missing the whole point. I have never voted for an earmark. I voted against all appropriation bills. So, this whole thing about earmarks is totally misunderstood.
Earmarks is the responsibility of the Congress. We should earmark even more. We should earmark every penny. So, that’s the principle that we have to follow and the — and the responsibility of the Congress. The whole idea that you vote against an earmark, you don’t save a penny. That just goes to the administration and they get to allocate the funds.
Taxpayers for Common Sense released a database Tuesday of all the earmarks requested by members of Congress for Fiscal Year 2011. Over $130 billion was requested across 39,294 earmarks. With most House Republicans abstaining from the process, the majority of those requests came from Congressional Democrats. House Democrats requested over $51 billion, outpaced by Senate Democrats with just under $55 billion. On the other hand Senate Republicans only asked for $22 billion, with the four House Republicans accounting for a little over $1 billion in earmark requests. Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu had the highest request total for the year at around $4.5 billion.
From 2008-2010, the average Texas congressman brought back $74 million in earmarks, according to an analysis of data from the Center for Responsive Politics and Taxpayers for Common Sense, as the Texas Independent previously reported. In those three years, Paul sponsored/co-sponsored 45 successful earmarks totaling nearly $120 million. That was the sixth-greatest total among U.S. House members from Texas.
Of the five U.S. House members who brought home more total earmarked money than Paul, three were defeated in the November elections — Democratic U.S. Reps. Chet Edwards, Solomon Ortiz and Ciro Rodriguez (who all have large military installations in or near their districts.)
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