in Houston, Texas
Rep. Kay Granger’s $52 million for Trinity River makes list of Congressional ‘earmarks’ for projects near members’ property
Tuesday, Feb 07, 2012, 03:31PM CST
By Mark Lisheron
U.S. House

Rep. Kay Granger’s tireless work in Washington has delivered nearly 52 million dollars to downtown Fort Worth redevelopment. Taxpayers can rest easy knowing she has put that money in the hands of her son, JD.

Granger, R-Fort Worth, didn’t top the Washington Post’s list of 49 members of Congress who managed to bring more than $300 million in federal money to places close enough to benefit them or someone close to them.

That would be Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., whose $124 million in what the Beltway crowd quaintly calls earmarks has spiffed up downtown Tuscaloosa where Shelby just happens to own an office building.

Granger had to settle for second, edging out California Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who believed Americans were anxious to part with $50 million to provide light rail for Union Square and Chinatown in San Francisco.

The Post examined the greasy dives into the pork barrel by all 535 members of Congress and found 33 who helped direct spending to projects within about two miles of where they live or own property.

Another 16 lawmakers slung suet-smeared slabs at programs, businesses and colleges where relatives might reasonably be seen to benefit.

And although the practice is sometimes looked down upon by the public (hence all the allusions to pigs, their ears and waistlines), as Texas Watchdog has pointed out, the story reminds us this wallow is altogether legal. The Senate earlier this month voted 59-40 against an amendment outlawing earmarks.

While the amounts of money and the projects varied, there was a single unwavering reply to questions by the Post to the pork mongers: In no way was personal benefit a consideration before my fatty, two-fisted barrel grab.

Granger has taken full advantage of her legal right. In 2010 she delivered to her district $70.4 million in 35 different installments, 29th among everyone in the House, according to the government accountability non-profit Open Secrets.

Over the past 10 years Granger has made sure all American taxpayers got a stake in the revival of downtown Fort Worth. The project includes rerouting the Trinity River for those taxpayers in Maine who might not have known the river needed rerouting.

The executive director of the Trinity River Vision Authority is JD Granger. Until 2010, mother and son owned a condominium a half a mile south of the project, the story says.

Texas put four others on the list, piglet snatchers compared to Granger.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, who has lobbied for light rail earmarks, helped secure $5.25 million to the University of Houston in 2009 and 2010. At the time her husband, Elwyn Lee, was vice president of student affairs.

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, managed to get $2.98 million to widen three miles of bypass for U.S. Highway 287, the dust of which probably stuck to the windows of two nearby homes Barton owns.

Just up the road from Republican Rep. Lamar Smith’s San Antonio home are three road improvements paid for with $950,000 Smith earmarked in 2009 for the Fort Sam Houston military base.

That same year Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, brought home $665,000 to help widen a road for the development of  a commercial property near the family’s food processing plant. Hinojosa is a partner in the commercial development.
 
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Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Photo from the House chambers via houselive.gov.
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