Wednesday, October 29, 2008

John Kline inconsistent on earmarks

At the Same Time, He’s Still Celebrating the “Corrupt” Funding He Sought in the Past and Misrepresenting the Process

EAGAN, Minn. – You’ve seen the ad: Rep. John Kline (R-Lakeville) walks and talks to viewers in front of giant screens representing some of the congressional high priority projects – or earmarks – he finds most egregious. His voice dripping with exasperation, he decries money that has gone to “fruit fly research in France.”

What viewers might not know is that this is a national GOP talking point: Vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin also has been talking about it. And because of the attention afforded Mrs. Palin, we now know the truth about fruit fly research: It isn’t research about fruit flies; it’s research on fruit flies for the benefit of human beings – namely, human beings with brain function abnormalities.

Scientists use fruit flies (Drosophila) for many types of research because humans share important genes with them. Due to research on fruit flies, scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill showed that a protein called neurexin is required for nerve cell connections to form and function correctly. The discovery may lead to better understanding of autism spectrum disorders, as human neurexins have been identified as a genetic risk factor for autism.

The irony is that like Palin, Mr. Kline also is talking about fruit fly research alongside a call to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Mr. Kline began talking about the need to fully fund special education – which has been under-funded since 1982 – during his first debate with DFL opponent Steve Sarvi. Unfortunately, the very research he and Mrs. Palin are belittling could help eliminate one of the disabilities that put children in special education in the first place.

Also like Palin, Mr. Kline is counting on people not to make the connection between the two. But MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann did on Oct. 24.

A Continuation of John Kline’s Confused and Confusing Position on Earmarks
Mr. Kline’s position against all member high priority projects, which he calls “corrupt and corrupting," has been called “shocking and disturbing” and recently, by the Star Tribune, “absolutist” and “a concern.”

It’s also hypocritical. Before 2007, John Kline sought and accepted funds for high priority projects in his district. When he decided to stop accepting them, one might have expected him also to stop celebrating them. But he hasn’t.

In August, the Star Tribune reported that Kline attended the ribbon cutting for County Road 21 in Scott County, a road for which he secured $2.1 million in federal funds in 2004 and 2005. Kline said he saw no hypocrisy in his presence at the opening.

Just yesterday, Kline attended the opening of the Northwood Parkway Bridge, now connecting Central Parkway and Northwood Parkway/Denmark Avenue over Interstate 35E in Eagan. During the opening ceremony, Eagan Mayor Mike Maguire called Mr. Kline a “first-dollar investor” in the project (video available), which is also referred to as the Ring Road. Kline worked with Sen. Norm Coleman to secure $984,000 in funding for the bridge.

“John Kline appears to take whatever position is convenient for him,” said Bridget Cusick, deputy campaign manager, Steve Sarvi for Congress. “This proves that all his squawking about earmarks is politically driven. The good news is that it doesn’t take voters long to figure out this kind of thing. We believe given everything that’s going on in their lives that John Kline isn’t talking about – like the effects of a sour economy and skyrocketing health care costs – they’ll vote for change next week by voting for Steve Sarvi.”

Kline Misrepresents Process for Securing Transportation Funds
For months, we’ve been hearing John Kline talk about how the process for securing money for high priority projects is “corrupt and corrupting” because, as he tells it, it’s entirely based on seniority, party, and back-room dealing.

Prior to 2007, many agreed that the process for securing these funds needed reform, as the number of earmarks had skyrocketed during 12 years of
Republican congressional leadership. So, as part of the new Democratic Congress’s “100 hours agenda,” rules changes were enacted that have resulted in a drastic reduction in the number of requests. John Kline voted against this rules change.

On Fri., Oct. 24, at a joint press conference with Steve Sarvi, Rep. Jim Oberstar, chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and
Infrastructure, called out Mr. Kline on his characterization of the process by which member high priority transportation projects are allocated funding. He pointed out that to secure funding in his committee, members must complete a 20-point interview or form in which they argue the merits of their request. Among other things, they must demonstrate the project has local backing from citizens and/or community groups and discuss why the project can’t be fully financed at the state or local level.

“John Kline has decided not to serve the 2nd Congressional District,” said Steve Sarvi. “No one said being in Congress was easy. Part of the job is
helping secure federal funds for critical projects back home. The process isn’t perfect, but Mr. Kline could both advocate for reform and work for his district. Doing anything else is abdication of responsibility.

“For too long, the 2nd Congressional District has been represented by someone who isn’t representing us; instead, he has served the president, his party, and big corporate interests. It’s time to change course.”

About Steve Sarvi

Sarvi, the DFL- and Independence Party-endorsed candidate for Congress in Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District, is running for Congress because he believes our nation needs to change course and that the people of Minnesota’s 2nd District deserve a representative who will serve the people – not the president, not their party, not big corporate interests. Sarvi is a decorated veteran of the U.S. Army and National Guard who served in both Kosovo and Iraq. He’s a former three-term mayor of Watertown, Minn., who managed local governments for more than 13 years. For more about Sarvi and his vision for changing our country’s course, visit


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