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Politico: McCain Pork Claim Untrue

Politico teams up with Politifact — a joint fact-checking effort between the St. Petersburg Times and Congressional Quarterly — to expose some of the untruths told by Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain that have thus far gone unexamined. Most of the items in the article are about fleeting claims that have since been abandoned. However, McCain makes one boast in particular — about how he has never once requested an earmark or pork-barrel project for his home state of Arizona — at just about every one of his town hall meetings. From Politico:****

**

McCain’s crusade against government waste has long been a central part of his political persona. And during a January Republican presidential debate in Manchester, N.H., he asserted “in 24 years as a member of Congress, I have never asked for nor received a single earmark or pork barrel project for my state and I guarantee you I’ll veto those [spending] bills.”

In fact, McCain repeated the claim yesterday at the town hall in Lima, Ohio.

In fact, a cursory review turned up a few projects that PolitiFact says contradict McCain’s claim:

  • In 2006, McCain co-sponsored with fellow Arizona Republican Sen. Jon Kyl a bill — which died in committee — that would have authorized $10 million for an academic center at the University of Arizona named in honor of William Rehnquist, the late Supreme Court chief justice.
  • In 2003, he won authorization to buy property to create a buffer zone around Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, a project requested by the Air Force, but not the president.
  • In 1992, he wrote a letter to the head of the Environmental Protection Agency requesting that the “EPA either reprogram $5 million out of existing funds or earmark the amount from an appropriate account” for a wastewater project in Nogales, Ariz., according to documents obtained by The Washington Post. The EPA administrator, William Reilly, said it wasn’t doable. But in October 2007, McCain and Kyl wrote a letter asking the EPA to include money for the project in its budget request. When the EPA didn’t oblige, Kyl — not McCain — put an earmark in the 2008 omnibus spending bill.

McCain’s campaign asserts these projects didn’t meet the definition of earmarks, though pork-barrel projects are hard to define and PolitiFact concluded “these three examples conflict with his bold claim. So we find that claim false.”

We will see if he adjusts his speech in the future. But we’re not counting on it — based on the campaign’s defense of the claim above. Still, pork by any other name…

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