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$4 Million Earmark Leads to Senator’s Wife

Written by Gary North on July 17, 2012

Follow the money. That’s what the movie version of “Deep Throat” said in All the President’s Men. No one recalls how the phrase got into the script, including the script writer. But it’s a good rule.

The Pentagon gets about $600 billion a year, not counting $88 billion for actually fighting wars. How easy is it to slip in a special favor? Very.

A U.S. Senator’s wife was hired at $80,000 a year. The organization that hired her monitors an education program. The monitoring firm is paid by the company that provides the education. It’s called Starbase.

“All those opposed to teaching children science please stand up!” You get the idea.

In 2008, the Senate Appropriations Committee added $4 million for spending on this science education program.

The Senator’s wife told her employer that the program was OK. After all, she ran its website.

The head of the lobbying group said he hired her because she was looking for a job. “We didn’t hire her because of her husband. We didn’t hire her for that reason. She was an experienced educator.”

Shortly after hiring the senator’s wife, Spectrum filed a lobbying registration form with the House and Senate naming Barbara Johnson as a lobbyist for the company. The form listed Starbase as her only client.

Sharp said the form was submitted in error.

“That was a mistake. She never lobbied the Hill,” he said. “She never lobbied her husband.”

She told the  reporter, “I was never a lobbyist.” That settles it.

The Senator never told anyone on the committee about his wife’s connection to the program.

Perry Plumart, a spokesman for the senator, said Johnson played no role in his wife’s employment and had no contact with Pentagon Starbase officials. Plumart said the senator didn’t think it was necessary to disclose his wife’s employment in certifications filed with the Appropriations Committee because the money he added to the program was technically not an earmark.

That’s clear enough. As for the $4 million to fund the program, that was just one of those things, just one of those crazy things.

The senator’s spokesman said the money was not an earmark because it was added to an existing program, not intended for any specific aspect of Starbase, and the request for additional funds was not directed to Johnson’s home state of South Dakota.  “Sen. Johnson’s support of increased funding for STARBASE was not an earmark under the definition of a congressionally directed spending item as defined by the Senate Rules,” Plumart said in a statement.

See? The money did not go to the Senator’s state. So, it was not an earmark.

Barbara Johnson said she sought an oral opinion from the Senate Ethics Committee to ensure that her employment “wasn’t crossing any lines.” She said she couldn’t recall when she sought the opinion or who she met with at the Ethics Committee, but she said she was told that her employment was permitted under Senate rules. “They said it didn’t pose any conflict,” she said.

This is how the game is played inside the Beltway. This is how it will continue to be played until the money runs out.

Continue Reading on www.washingtonpost.com

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16 thoughts on “$4 Million Earmark Leads to Senator’s Wife

  1. Bill McCroskey says:

    And the band plays on ….until as the writer explains … the money runs out.

  2. This despicable senator, and his wife, need to return the money, and he should resign his position from the senate immediately. This is what we have in the senate and much of the congress! These are the very people that are responsible for the decline in responsible legislation! Traitors each and every one of them!.

  3. Dan Loffler says:

    I'm confused by this paragraph …
    "“All those opposed to teaching children science please stand up!” You get the idea."
    … is the Tea Party opposed to science education?

  4. Debbie Chaney says:

    I just read the link and it's a rather lengthy Washington Post article, but here's a summary…see if you can spot the same trend that I found:
    Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which added $4 million to the budget of a Pentagon program called Starbase. Johnson’s wife worked for a lobbying and consulting firm that has a $1 million Pentagon contract to monitor Starbase. She was also assigned to manage its website and was paid $80,000 annually to evaluate the program. Starbase was her only client.
    Rep. Ed Pastor (D-Ariz.) is a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, which sent millions to fund the ACE scholarship program for at-risk high school students headed by his daughter in Arizona. She earns $75,774 a year. Since his daughter was hired as its director, Pastor has earmarked $4.2 million for the program.
    Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.) has championed millions in earmarks to the University of Houston while her husband has helped run the school as a senior administrator. He has worked at the university since 1978, but since his wife took office in 1995 he has risen to dual executive roles and his salary has almost doubled to $210,491 a year. Since 2009, Rep. Lee has helped obtain four congressional earmarks for the school totaling about $5.3 million. She recently sought another $16.5 million for the university that was blocked by the earmark moratorium. Her husband is now vice president for community relations and institutional access.
    Rep. Robert E. Andrews (D-N.J.) is a member of the House education committee and has secured six earmarks worth $3.3 million for a scholarship program at Rutgers School of Law in Camden. His wife is an associate dean in charge of enrollment, scholarships, and special legal programs for the law school.
    Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) requested earmarks worth more $1.5 million for Weber State University in Ogden. Before $1.25 million of them were ultimately secured, the university hired the congressman’s son as a lobbyist. He serves as director of government relations.
    In Chicago, William Lipinski was an influential member of Congress for 22 years. When he decided to step down from Congress, his son Daniel ran for his seat and won. Since taking office, Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Il.) has helped to send federal tax dollars to a client of his father’s lobbying practice. With other Illinois congressional members, he secured $2.5 million in earmarks for rail projects that are overseen by one of his father’s clients, Chicago Transit Authority, which has paid the former congressman $766,330.20 in fees.
    Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) helped secure $21.9 million in earmarks to six clients of a lobbying firm that employs her daughter. The clients paid the firm more than $1 million in fees to represent them before Congress. Brown was also the sole sponsor of $1.79 million in earmarks to the Community Rehabilitation Center, where her daughter worked as a lead lobbyist. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) joined Brown as a co-sponsor of a $750,000 earmark for the rehabilitation center in 2010 but later decided to withdraw his support when he discovered that her daughter was a lobbyist for the center.
    Hmmm…did you notice that all but one of them have a D next to their name?

  5. HA! Haven't people learned anything by now….Sen. Johnson is a DEMOCRAT, they can do whatever they want. If this was a GOP member, the left would be calling for, and getting a resignation. Look at all of the liberal communist crooks that are in office now.

  6. BSDetectorNow says:

    In that lengthy article there was only one time where his party affiliation was mentioned. Why was I not surprised to see the D following his name? Had he been a republican it would have been mentioned in blaring headlines and in every paragraph. I know there is corruption in the republican ranks as well as the democrats but not to their degree. The Obummer administration and the democrat party is the most corrupt, lying and Godless bunch of vermin to ever occupy Washington. It's Chicago politics and values on steroids.

  7. Yes, I would hope the Tea Party is opposed to all government boondoggles, er, I mean, "education" spending. I cannot think of a more wasteful use of money than the government spending it on "education". It's usually just an excuse to steer money to those connected to government power, such as the senator's wife above.

  8. timlebsack says:

    re: "This is how it will continue to be played until the money runs out."
    So true. This will not be repaired by honest politicians or clean operation procedures. Repeal the 16th amendment.

  9. Bill McCroskey says:

    The 'game' in D.C. is rigged worse than ANY carnival game you'll ever see or play …. they are not there to serve us … 90% are there to line their own pockets or their friends and relativies pockets. It will NEVER end until the ultimate collapse of the system as we know it now. It is not just the Democrats either … I will guess it is more than even odds the Dems are involved more often … but is not the Dems exclusive domain to steal from the public. The Paul's (Ron and Rand) and a few others are as close to 'honest' as you will find in that cess pool called Washington D.C.

  10. grannyx4 says:

    I agree. These people are shameless!_

  11. Why the hell do we even bother voting??? We should march on DC and kick all their a$$es (including all aides get rid of all lobbiests as well) out of office and start anew (with maybe 5th or 6th grade students), they sure as he77 couldn't do worse and they wouldn't be corrupt (yet)! Any better ideas? 'Cause our votes don't change a dammm thing.

  12. JayMarie says:

    You mean all except the rino Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah)? You do show him listed as a Republican. He needs to go and be replaced by a true GOP candidate. They all need to be investigated, sanctioned, and removed from service, lose their pensions, etc…

  13. just rambling says:

    ALL lobbyists are TRAITORS and so IS SHE.
    They are TRAITORS because they lobby against the PEOPLE and the CONSTITUTION,and the CONSTITUTION is for the PEOPLE,which are citizens and NATURAL BORN CITIZENS.
    Only NATURAL BORN CITIZENS CAN be PRESIDENT (get the connection?).
    Corporations are ARTIFICIAL CITIZENS,therefore them and their lobbyists are TRAITORS and should be TRIED and HUNG BY THE NECK until DEAD,that is what a TRAITOR deserves.

  14. LOL no surprise here, they're alll democrats. Unfortunately, nothing will happen to them because the PRESS protects them. In an earlier post about this I wrote that if this was a conservative, Pelosi and the media would be screaming for a resignation…and the conservative would do the right thing and resign. Other than Wiener, I have yet to read about a liberal resigning.

  15. Smeethow says:

    When my husband was a park ranger in Washington state he couldn't hire his own kids to be park-aides for the summer. Nepotism was the reason, shy isn't it the same at the federal level?

  16. These people are lower than "dung"—-our congress for the most part is just as crooked as Mexico!1 Most of them should hang their head in shame when they pass a picture of one of our Founding Fathers".