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An Old Earmark of McCain's Surfaces

By John Solomon
Sen. John McCain for years has championed efforts to end the practice of earmarking, where lawmakers insert money for special projects into congressional appropriations bills. The Arizona Republican now running for president has routinely tried to highlight such spending provisions as wasteful "political pork" and last year year he called the rapid rise of earmarks during Republicans' decade-long control of Congress "disgraceful."

"If we don't stop the earmarking, we're not going to stop the abuses of power here in Washington," McCain told his colleagues.

It turns out, McCain may not have always been so averse to earmarks.

As part of a story published today on the McCain campaign's efforts to woo lobbyists and their big money client The Washington Post reviewed years of the senator's official correspondence to agencies that have been released over the years under the Freedom of Information Act.

That review located this 1992 letter in which McCain privately pressed the Republican administration of President Bush's father, George H.W. Bush, to secure such a $5 million earmark for a wastewater project in Arizona after Congress had rejected the request in its own spending bill. Spurned by his colleagues, McCain took his case to the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"I would like to request that EPA either re-program $5 million out of existing funds or earmark the amount from an appropriate account," McCain wrote in his Oct. 9, 1992 letter to then-EPA Administrator William K. Reilly, calling the earmark "crucial to protecting the public health and the environment."

Reilly wrote back a few months later -- in the final days of the first Bush administration -- saying his agency had "no options with which to fund this project."

Posted at 4:28 PM ET on Dec 31, 2007  | Category:  John McCain
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