David Jolly lobbied for federal stimulus that GOP now uses to attack Alex Sink
Republican David Jolly is campaigning for Florida’s Congressional District 13 as a fiscal conservative, and a new ad against rival Alex Sink revives a favorite target of a few years ago: the federal stimulus.
The ad was created by the National Republican Congressional Committee but has not yet aired (and suddenly disappeared when the Tampa Bay Times asked about it this week). It casts Sink as another stimulus-loving Democrat.
The 30-second spot deems the stimulus a Barack Obama failure and “wasteful spending” that “drove up the debt.”
But Jolly himself sought stimulus money as part of his work as a Washington lobbyist.
It’s the latest example of Jolly's past profession causing problems for his campaign to replace his former boss, the late Rep. C.W. Bill Young.
Records indicate Jolly lobbied for several clients wanting a piece of the stimulus, formally called the American Recovery and Revinestment Act of 2009. His clients ranged from the the interest group Coalition of EPSCOR States, the University of South Dakota, and on behalf of Jesssie’s Law, aimed at increasing funding for U.S. marshals to go after sexual predators.
Jolly, unlike other instances in which his campaign message has collided with his lobbying, did not deny he went for the money.
“David strongly opposed the stimulus bill because it represented additional debt spending we can't afford,” spokeswoman Sarah Bascom said. “Once President Obama and Nancy Pelosi decided however to spend nearly a trillion dollars, David fought to ensure the funding went to real priorities like funding for law enforcement to go after sex offenders, research to advance technologies for our warfighters, and broadband access for rural and low-income communities.”
She added: “David has done good work that has helped people, but Alex Sink and the Washington Democrats behind these attacks don't want anyone to know that because that does not fit with their storyline. Alex Sink should condemn these attacks.”
At the same time, Jolly’s lobbying may not fit with the NRCC’s storyline. The ad against Sink was on YouTube, but after an inquiry from the Times, it is now marked private.
Republicans used the stimulus as a political tool against Democrats (and then-Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, who hugged Obama at a stimulus rally in 2009) but went for it, too. The GOP-controlled Florida Legislature used about $4 billion in federal money to prop up the state budget during the recession. During the 2012 presidential campaign, Rep. Paul Ryan was put on the defensive when letters surfaced showing he had written to federal agencies in support of stimulus cash for his home state of Wisconsin.
George LeMieux, the interim U.S. senator appointed by Crist, declared that he would have voted against the stimulus. But behind the scenes, LeMieux was trying to secure hundreds of millions in stimulus dollars for Florida, letters he sent to the U.S. Department of Transportation revealed.
He sounded then as Jolly does now.
"Once the money has been appropriated," LeMieux said, "Florida should compete for it. We pay more money in (to federal coffers) than we get back. I'm not going to let that money go to California."