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Rick Santorum Is a Giant Pork Spender, As It Turns Out

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Ah, Rick Santorum. Rick, Rick, Rick. After winning the support of 100 evangelical leaders this weekend, the conservative candidate solidified himself as a seriousish contender in the Republican race, which is exciting only because it means the New York Times will now spend the next couple of weeks writing probing examinations of this true Washington insider. Oh look, here's one. Thanks to new, more transparent rules on earmarks, we now have access to the earmarks Santorum made in 2006, the last year he was in the Senate -- and the first year the transparency rules took effect. You take what you can get. Oh, but in the case of some of Santorum's campaign donors, what you get is several million dollars!


Now, we already know about this guy's allergy to ethics, particularly the pretty mortgage he received from the weird rich-guy bank that donated to his reelection campaign. But this is a bit different: instead of getting the money himself from earmark beneficiaries (although, jeez, who are we to assume there wasn't plenty more of that), Santorum directed what the Times calls a "river of federal money" to companies including Piasecki Aircraft, JLG Industries and Medico Industries. Yes, exactly. WHO???

Despite the fact that the Times believes pork-faced Rick directed about $1 billion in earmarks over the course of his 11-year congressional career, Santorum has been saying things like, "We’re focused on earmarks, and it’s wrong [BUT IT FEELS SO RIGHT]" and "We’re ignoring the elephant in the room" while on the campaign trail in South Carolina.

The Santorum team has also denied that there was any kind of direction from donors about help they might need of the cash variety. BUT! Paper trails: Piasecki Aircraft, after donating $15,000 to Santorum in the space of six years, wrote a letter to the Senator asking for some "appropriation" assistance regarding a defense spending bill. Santorum provided it by writing to Senator Ted Stevens, who had more power in the matter as the chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. It seemed to work: the next year, the Piasecki family donated $16,000 to Santorum's failed reelection bid, which, recall, was more than they'd donated in the previous six years. Huh!

Now, how might the blithering fool defend these moves (of which there are more detailed here)? Probably by saying that it's really important that the military and everything else in this country be controlled by private companies because they're awesome and they create jobs. For the people who clean the homes of the billionaires that run said companies. [NYTimes]

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