McCain denies 'stimulus hypocrisy' accusation

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., denied allegations Tuesday that he publicly opposed President Obama's stimulus plan, but then went on to quietly request funds.

A report released on Monday by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan investigative reporting group, found that "scores" of leading members of Congress who strongly touted their opposition to the 2009 Recovery Act have nonetheless made requests for a portion of the $787 billion stimulus funds.

The report found that the Arizona Republican, who is one of the Senate's most dedicated opponents of earmarking, wrote to the Transportation Department in an attempt to obtain funds for Phoenix.

"They're [CPI] not telling the truth," McCain said this morning on Good Morning America. "I received a letter from constituents, and I put a cover letter on it and passed it on. I specifically said 'I am not requesting the funds.'

"That's what I do as their representative," he said.

In the text of McCain's letter to the Transportation Department, he wrote that the funds would be used "for a specific purpose that will usher into our community a much more tightly knit transit system alternative to the private automobile."

The CPI report names many vocal stimulus opponents who later sought funds, including tea party favorites Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., and California Republican Reps. Kevin McCarthy, Tom McClintock and Dana Rohrabacher.

In response to the report, Rob Gaudet, the Tea Party Patriots national coordinator, said Monday that the GOP members should "not be taking this money and spending it, regardless of where it came from."

"They should fight and stop [the spending] with every fiber of their elected beings," Gaudet said.

On GMA this morning, McCain said that the tea party stance is "exactly right."

"What they're [the tea party] saying is what I've been fighting against for 20 years -- this corrupting, earmarking, pork-barrel process that goes on," he said. "I've seen the corruption myself -- and I don't take that word lightly. We've gotta stop it."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec