McCain Brought Home the Bacon With 1989 Earmark
Sen. John McCain, as everyone knows, loves to say that he has never once, in his whole career, requested nor received a single earmark or pork-barrel project for his home state of Arizona.
Politifact has already released a report taking issue with the claim. But the McCain campaign disputes that any example cited meet the campaign’s strict definition of an earmark.
It is worth noting that we turned up news reports of a brouhaha that erupted in 1991, over McCain’s criticism of one of his own apparent earmarks, but we were unable to get the official documentation to back it up.
In April 1989, McCain sent a letter to then-Sen. James McClure, R-Idaho, asking the ranking Republican on the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee for a set-aside to help restore a 200-year-old Catholic mission near Tucson, Ariz. “I would like to ask your help in the vital effort to restore San Xavier del Bac, by earmarking $500,000 for that purpose in the FY 1990 appropriations bill,” McCain wrote in the signed letter, which is in McClure’s archived papers at the University of Idaho. [emphasis added]
There it is — the word “earmark” appearing in a letter requesting an earmark, signed by McCain. Seems open-and-shut. So what did the McCain campaign have to say for itself?
Brian Rogers, a spokesman for the McCain campaign, said that the mission is a National Historic Landmark and that Congress authorizes preservation funds for landmarks. McCain opposes unauthorized appropriations earmarks, Rogers said. “It does not meet the definition of an earmark,” he added. As for the language of the letter, Rogers said it was written by staffers back in 1989. “The verbiage is not something that Senator McCain would have chosen,” he said.
Of course, it doesn’t matter if a staffer wrote it. But this unquestionably meets the definition of an earmark that McCain denies ever requesting in his stump speeches.
Apparently, the McCain campaign’s official position is that if McCain requests an earmark, it is, by definition, not an earmark.