CAGW Names Alaska Gov. Murkowski Porker of the Month | Citizens Against Government Waste

CAGW Names Alaska Gov. Murkowski Porker of the Month

Press Release

For Immediate Release Contact: Daytime:Jessica Shoemaker 202-467-5318
January 20, 2005 After hours:Tom Finnigan 202-253-3852

 

(Washington, D.C.) – Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today named Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski (R) Porker of the Month for backing construction of the infamous “Bridges to Nowhere” and proposing a taxpayer-funded public relations campaign to repair the damage that the bridges helped inflict on Alaska’s national reputation.

Congress designated $452 million in the six-year Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Act: A Legacy for Users (P.L. 109-59) for the two bridges: $229 million for the Gravina Island Bridge, connecting Gravina Island (pop. 50) to the town of Ketchikan; and $223 million for the Knik Arm Bridge, renamed Don Young’s Way after House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska).  The former would replace a five-minute ferry ride while the latter would serve as an alternative route from Anchorage to a nearly deserted port.  The bridges became a symbol for congressional excess in the pork-stuffed transportation bill.  In November, Congress removed the earmark instructions and allowed state authorities to spend the money as they see fit.  Gov. Murkowski’s budget plan designates $185 million for the bridges in fiscal 2007, but the final decision rests with the state legislature.  Bridge opponents in Alaska argue that Gravina Island is adequately served by its ferry and that building either bridge would take away from more urgent transportation priorities.

Last week, Gov. Murkowski announced a $1.2 billion state budget surplus.  He proposed spending part of that windfall to hire a public relations firm to counter the perception that Alaska politicians milk taxpayers.

Instead of trying to convince the country they are not porkers, perhaps Alaskan politicians should stop being porkers!  Since 1999, the Alaska delegation has brought home more than $3 billion in federal pork, thanks mostly to former Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska).  The state has ranked number one in pork per capita since CAGW began calculating the statistic in 2000, pulling in $984.85 worth of pork per resident in 2005.  In December 2003, The Los Angeles Times revealed how Sen. Stevens made millions of dollars from investments with businessmen who received government contracts or other aid through his legislative efforts.  The federally-funded Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board (AFMB) recently gave Alaska Airlines $500,000 to paint a giant king salmon on one of its jets.  The AFMB has received $29 million from federal taxpayers since 2003.  AFMB board members include business partners Trevor McCabe (former aide to Ted Stevens) and state Sen. Ben Stevens (son of Ted Stevens).  Gov. Murkowski (whose daughter is Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski) also has a vested interest in the bridge to Gravina Island; his wife owns acreage there and development on the island would drive up property values.

For favoring wasteful pork-barrel projects that may also benefit his own family, proposing the use of tax dollars in a hopeless attempt to prove that Alaska politicians are not porkers, and especially on behalf of its 2,733 members and supporters in Alaska, CAGW names Gov. Frank Murkowski Porker of the Month for January 2006.

Citizens Against Government Waste is the nation’s largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.  Porker of the Month is a dubious honor given to lawmakers, government officials, and political candidates who have shown a blatant disregard for the interests of taxpayers.

 

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