Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Senate candidate Kendrick Meek takes issue with earmark criticism

WASHINGTON — At a time when his colleagues in Congress and rivals in the U.S. Senate race are spurning federal spending on earmarks, Rep. Kendrick Meek is asking House budget writers for nearly $238 million in projects.

Meek's requests — posted on his Web site by Monday as required by the House — range from $100,000 for "teaching healthy lifestyle choices to children'' through the Haitian American Alliance Youth Foundation to $37 million for dredging Miami Harbor so it can accommodate larger vessels.

His Republican Senate rivals have attacked earmark spending as a symptom of Washington overspending: Gov. Charlie Crist vows not to seek earmarks if he's elected to the Senate, and his primary rival, Marco Rubio, has the support of a national critic of earmarks — though Rubio backed local projects as a state legislator.

Meek suggests his Senate rivals would react differently if they were members of Congress, who every spring are besieged by a parade of local governments, schools and charities looking for a slice of the federal budget.

"I don't look it as being a fiscal conservative if you are willing to take away your ability as an elected official to assist a local community in its needs," he said.

The Miami Democrat did not put in any requests for private companies, saying he agreed with House leaders who decided earlier this month to ban earmarks that benefit for-profit businesses. But he has done so in the past.

Meek drew criticism in 2006 for pushing a $4 million earmark for the failed Poinciana Industrial Park. The project was scrapped amid questionable spending by its developer and construction delays, but Meek — whose mother, Carrie Meek was paid at least $40,000 in consulting fees for the project — said his intent was to boost employment in a blighted area of his district.

The vast majority of his requests are for local governments: school buses; sewer lines; research projects at schools like Florida International University and Meek's alma mater, Florida A&M University; and aid for nonprofits like United Way.

In a recent interview, Meek said seeking federal spending for local projects is part of his job. "People are paying federal taxes down in Florida, and they deserve some return on those taxes," he said. "People send us here to D.C. to bring resources back to the local community.''

Meek is unlikely to secure but a fraction of what he has asked for: Of requests for more than $260 million last year, he pulled down $5.5 million in individual earmarks. He pulled down a total of $34 million in earmarks with South Florida's delegation.

Senate candidate Kendrick Meek takes issue with earmark criticism 03/22/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 23, 2010 12:17am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 7 creepy podcasts to get you in the Halloween spirit


    Halloween is all about scary stories. The holiday itself is based on a compilation of creepy tales from history going back thousands of years.

    Television network AMC recently debuted an immersive new podcast, Deadly Manners.
  2. Police: Before a shot was fired after Spencer's UF speech, men gave Nazi salutes and chanted about Hitler


    Gainesville police have arrested three men they say are responsible for the shooting after Richard Spencer's speech at the University of Florida on Thursday.

    Texas men Tyler Tenbrink, 28; William Henry Fears, 30; and Colton Gene Fears, 28 all face attempted homicide charges for a shooting following Richard Spencer's speech at the University of Florida. (Gainesville police)
  3. Koetter: QB Jameis Winston will start Sunday vs. Bills


    After five days of uncertainty, Jameis Winston will be starting at quarterback on Sunday as the Bucs play at Buffalo, coach Dirk Koetter announced Friday afternoon.

    Bucs QB Jameis Winston, shown against the Patriots two weeks ago, will start Sunday at Buffalo after being sidelined with a shoulder injury last week. Dirk Koetter announced that he was starting after watching him throw at practice Friday.
  4. Florida's 'Turtle God' is ailing. What happens to his remarkable collection of specimens?


    OVIEDO — In a small town about five miles from the University of Central Florida there stands a two-story yellow house built in the 1920s. A modest sign mounted on the wall next to the front door says, "Chelonian Research Institute."

    The main room at the Chelonian Institute in Oviedo Florida. - Peter Pritchard sounds British but he's lived in Florida for five decades, running the Chelonian Institute in Oviedo Florida, which holds the world's largest collection of turtle specimens (some of them bones or shells, some of them live turtles or tortoises). Time magazine has declared him a hero of the planet and other turtle experts say he is to turtles what Dian Fossey was to gorillas. He's been instrumental in helping other species, too, including the Florida panther. He has traveled the world studying turtles.
  5. Photos: Maroon 5's PJ Morton slides into Tampa for an electric set at Crowbar


    While the rest of Tampa was off partying with Bruno Mars at Amalie Arena, a much smaller group of fans were getting down with Maroon 5 at Crowbar.

    PJ Morton performed at Crowbar in Tampa on Oct. 19, 2017.