Earmark Reform that Maybe Isn’t

The Huffington Post, through its investigative fund, calls into question U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair, for publicly saying he’d eliminate earmarks for for-profit companies, but maybe being among those finding a way around the new rules.

Instead, he and seven other legislators were found to have redirected money to non-profits for exactly the same purpose. In Dicks’ case, money that used to go to Intellicheck Mobilisa will now go to the University of Washington. The money is still related to IM’s technology, so UW have trouble answering how the university could get money to work with IM’s product.

The New York Times reported on the same method of procuring funds, saying it found dozens of cases worth more than $150 total.

2 thoughts on “Earmark Reform that Maybe Isn’t

  1. Rep Dicks and this progressive Congress are increasing the size of government while causing a decline of ‘for-profit’ companies. So it is natural that he will shift money to his supporters.

  2. About some of Dicks’ earmarks.

    I want to raise questions about the ethical connection between the illegal contracts issued by the Puget Sound Partnership (PSP), and Rep. Norm Dick and his two sons, K&L Gates law firm, and. the Cascade Conservancy. The State Auditor’s office issued an audit report, nr. 1003598, located at http://www.sao.wa.gov/auditreports/auditreportfiles/ar1003598.pdf, which identifies numerous PSP contract law violations. Among the findings is an illegal no-bid contract to K&L Gates law firm for $19,999 presumably to skirt the no bid announcement requirement of $20,000, but which then was modified to over $51,000. Numerous ethical violations were made in the justification, award, and modifications, but I want to point out a few items that were NOT in the report, and have not been reported in the press. K&L Gates helped establish the Puget Sound Partnership (PSP), and I believe helped Rep. Norm Dicks’ son, David Dicks, get appointed by Governor Gregoire as the PSP Executive Director. K&L Gates is Rep. Norm Dicks’ 4th largest political contributor in 2008 http://www.opencongress.org/wiki/Norman_Dicks, and its employees provided 62 individual campaign contributions to Gregoire. The PSP contract appears to reward K&L Gates for its support and contributions. This perception is fueled by the over $400 hourly rate charged, the falsely identified urgency that allowed the PSP to bypass the Attorney General’s office, which could have done the work, and the missed deadlines. An additional $10,000 PSP ‘gift’ to the Cascade Conservancy appears to reward them for having employed Rep. Norm Dicks’ other son, Ryan Dicks, as a lobbyist. Ryan Dicks then was appointed to a 2 year job, paying $93,000 per year, with Pierce County spending over $4 million of taxpayer money earmarked for some energy efficiency projects http://blogs.thenewstribune.com/oped/2007/07/23/new_job_for_ryan_dicks. Is this more quid pro quo? As a military officer, trained in government contracting, I can tell you that the appearance of a conflict of interest is nothing to be ignored. And this issue is separate from the PMA scandal which enveloped Rep. Dicks and hit the press a couple months ago.

    In his Appropriations Committee post, Rep. Dicks is keeper of the purse strings for a variety of federal land management agencies — the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service and EPA. The scenario I described illustrates just how detached from ethics some politicians (of any stripe) become when they experience increasing power over such a long period of time. Not only should Rep. Dicks be defeated next November, he should feel personally and professionally embarrassed for the conflict of interest he allowed to occur, and should resign for allowing such an egregious breach of ethics. And Governor Gregoire should fire David Dicks for his issuing illegal contracts and failed fiduciary responsibility.

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