The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Rep. Boyda Imprisons Taxpayer Money for Museum

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


Rep. Nancy Boyda (D-Kansas) deserves to “do some time” for her theft from the taxpayers of $100,000 for an egregious earmark she added to the 2008 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act.  The Kansas Regional Prisons Museum is set to receive the money to establish a site dedicated to the state’s historical and infamous penitentiaries and prisoners.

     In a statement provided to CNBC, Rep. Boyda explained herself thus, “… a modest, $100,000 federal investment in the museum, to match $2 million in private funds, makes sense for both Kansas and America.”  Rep. Boyda thinks it is appropriate to tell the rest of the country what they should fork out for her pet project.  Taking one hundred thousand dollars from the American people’s wallets, most of whom will never set foot in her district, never mind her museum, can only be considered modest compared to her original request for a whopping $1,180,000. 

     Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) challenged the earmark on the House floor but, shamefully, Rep. Boyda’s colleagues backed her in voting 317-112 to keep the earmark.

     The three federally-owned prisons, the Lansing Correctional Facility, U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, and U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth, came into existence in 1859, 1875, and 1895, respectively.  A privately-run prison was opened in 1992.  It is a mystery how Kansas managed to survive more than one hundred years without a taxpayer-funded memorial to its prisons.  Suddenly it is argued that a museum is a national priority.  If there is enough interest in the museum, then the private sector should have no problem coming up with all of the funding to meet that demand.  The prisons museum also could apply for a grant from the Smithsonian’s Institute of Museum and Library Services, which has awarded 95 grants for museums in Kansas since 1997.

     In a candidate questionnaire for the Kansas City Star in July 2006, Rep. Boyda said, “I’ll support legislative rules changes to ensure that proposed federal spending is subjected to a competitive awards process that values national necessity over political gain.”  Her pork violates that pledge.  The museum money was not given based on merit or national importance but for Rep. Boyda to get credit for bringing home the bacon. 

     The situation is all the more egregious considering that in early July 2007, Rep. Boyda cited funding shortages for the Penitentiary in Leavenworth and called for more spending for federal prisons.  The fact that her own earmark redirects spending away from her stated priorities is lost on Boyda.

     Rep. Boyda shows no shame for her pork-barreling practices.  According to the New York Times on August 4, she said, “Democracy is a contact sport, and I’m not going to be shy about asking for money for my community. … My guess is that next year I’m going to be putting in more earmarks.”

-- Alexa Moutevelis

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