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Ron Paul endorses major pork spender?

Rep. Ron Paul, Rep. Don Young

Many fiscally conservative bloggers are blasting a letter Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, an outspoken opponent of excess federal spending, sent to Alaskan Republicans endorsing in the state’s primary Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, a congressman notorious for advocating the 2005 $223 million “Bridge to Nowhere” project.

Richard A. Viguerie of the ConservativeHQ blog wrote a scathing reprimand of Paul, accusing the congressman of putting “pork ahead of principle.”

“I have been a strong supporter of Ron Paul for many years,” wrote Viguerie. “However, his endorsement of Don Young is something no conservative or libertarian can excuse. I’m sure I join many fans of Ron Paul who are shocked and disappointed by this decision.”

Paul’s letter to Alaska Republicans came last week, leading up to today’s primary vote that pits Alaska’s only U.S. representative, Young, against the state’s sitting lieutenant governor and Gov. Sarah Palin favorite, Sean Parnell.

Young has faced heat over the last year for accepting campaign donations from the oil company Veco, whose executive has pleaded guilty to bribing Alaskan government officials. According to The Wall Street Journal, Young remains under an investigation to determine whether he took bribes, illegal gratuities or unreported gifts from the company.

What has outraged bloggers and Paul supporters even more, however, is Young’s consistent record on government spending. In 2005, for example, the government watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense reported Young earmarked for Alaska nearly $1 billion for 119 projects packaged in a transportation bill, including $223 million for the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere” and a separate $231 million for a bridge to Anchorage to be named “Don Young’s Way”.

“These two bridges are the most egregious example of government waste we’ve ever seen,” said Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, as reported in Rolling Stone magazine.

In the letter sent to Alaskans, Paul cited his reasons for endorsing Young:

“Don and I have served together in Congress for many years, and I consider him a friend,” the letter states. “Don has been an outspoken voice against environmental extremists over the years and has strongly opposed the types of federal regulatory overreach advocated in the name of environmentalism.

“I am also glad to have Don as a cosponsor of one of the most significant pieces of legislation I have introduced, the Liberty Amendment. Few members of Congress have shown the insight to understand the importance of this sweeping legislation to restrain the federal government, and even fewer have shown the courage to cosponsor this bill. Don is one of those.”

The Liberty Amendment is a measure endorsed by several states and introduced by Paul to the House of Representatives that would eliminate the income tax and reassert limits to federal government in business-like ventures.

Paul’s reasoning behind his support of Young, however, hasn’t appeased the blogosphere.

John Henke of The Next Right blog wrote of the endorsement, “I’m not sure why Ron Paul would want to be associated with Don Young, but it does not reflect well on him. Ron ‘sound money’ Paul and Don ‘It’s my money’ Young deserve each other. But they should spare the rest of us.”

In debates, articles, speeches and statements Paul has consistently blasted the scope and spending of the federal government. At a “Defending the American Dream” summit last year, the Wall Street Journal reported, Paul criticized the GOP, saying, “The Republicans have become a party of entitlements and expansion of government,” and blamed “politicians in Washington” for escalating excessive spending.

Paul’s own record on pork and earmark expenditures, however, hasn’t been spotless. Paul’s congressional website lists his proposed earmark requests for 2009: 68 pages of projects targeted toward his Texas district amounting to more than $400 million.

The website also explains his rationale for making the requests:

“Congressman Ron Paul makes public all funding requests for his district,” the site state. “As long as the Federal government takes tax money from his constituents, he will make every effort to return that money to his district.”

Ron Paul declined to respond to WND’s request for comment.

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