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Tea Party founder, Texans among those asking for stimulus funds

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The founder of the House Tea Party Caucus, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, is among scores of Republicans and conservative Democrats who criticized the $787 billion economic stimulus law while privately asking Obama administration officials for stimulus money to pay for local projects.

Copies of lawmakers’ letters are posted as part of the Center for Public Interest’s Stimulating Hypocrisy story and they were also shared with members of the Investigative News Network.

INN member MinnPost reports that Bachman — who has campaigned saying the stimulus law was a “failure” and that it did not create any jobs — quietly wrote at least six letters to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to seek stimulus funding for Minnesota projects. In one letter, she sought $300 million for a replacement bridge on the St. Croix River and cited a state estimate that the project would create nearly 3,000 jobs.

Another INN member, The Texas Watchdog, says at least a dozen Texas lawmakers who voted against the 2009 bill to stimulate the U.S. economy but then quietly asked Obama administration officials for funding for various projects.

Republican Rep. Ron Paul was won of several Texas lawmakers who asked the U.S. Transportation Department to fund the Gulf Coast Freight Rail District. The request was rejected. Another Republican, Rep. Pete Sessions did obtain funding for a Dallas streetcar program, one of just two grants totaling $43 million that went to Texas under DOT’s $1.5 billion Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery program.

To find out if a particular lawmaker asked for stimulus funding from the Transportation, Energy, and Commerce Departments, search the Center’s database of letters here.

UPDATES FROM OTHER INN MEMBERS - 10/19/10 - 11:30 AM

Missouri - The St. Louis Beacon reported that Rep. Todd Akin and retiring Sen. Christopher Bond, both Republicans, opposed passage of the stimulus law then sought a share of its spoils. Akins asked for Commerce Department money for broadband in underserved communities while Bond wrote to the Energy Department on behalf of a grant for Doe Run Resources Corp., a St. Louis company that produces metal from recycled batteries.

Florida - U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, who once described the stimulus law as paying for "pork-driven projects and liberal-spending programs” later asked the U.S. Transportation Department for $29 million in stimulus funds for railroads in his district, the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting said. Three other Republican critics — Reps. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen — asked for $106 million in stimulus money for a Miami viaduct project.

Iowa - Rep. Steve King, who opposed the stimulus bill as a "non-stimulating boondoggle of liberal pet-projects and wasteful spending," later asked for stimulus money to pay for the Iowa HealthNet Connect Initiative, according to Iowa Watch. The initiative to expand a broadband network between hospitals and clinics was touted as a way to create 750 high-tech jobs.

California - Republican Reps. Kevin McCarthy, Tom McClintock and Dana Rohrabacher sent letters to federal departments backing various local transportation and telecommunications projects, at times invoking their potential to create jobs while publicly arguing that the stimulus would fail to create jobs, California Watch reported. "At a time when our state unemployment is significantly higher than the national average, this project will quickly put people to work,” McCarthy wrote in an August 2009 letter seeking money for a highway project. A few months later, McCarthy quipped that, "the percentage of Americans who believe that Elvis is still alive is greater than those who believe the stimulus effectively created jobs."

Michigan - Most Republican members of the Michigan congressional delegation sought stimulus funding for local projects, including Candice Miller, Dave Camp, Mike Rogers, Pete Hoekstra, Vern Ehlers and Fred Upton, according to the Michigan Messenger. All voted against the stimulus bill and most have been outspoken in claiming that the bill did not create jobs.