Stimulus foes see value in seeking cash

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On Feb. 13, 2009, Sen. Robert F. Bennett, Utah Republican, issued a statement criticizing the stimulus — but two days earlier, he privately forwarded to Mr. Vilsack a list of projects seeking stimulus money.

“I believe the addition of federal funds to these projects would maximize the stimulative effect of these projects on the local economy,” he wrote.

Mr. Bennett is up for re-election and facing several Republican challengers. Last month, the conservative anti-tax group Club for Growth announced that it was opposing his nomination for a fourth term.

“It is absurd to require Utah taxpayers to foot their portion of the bill associated with stimulus spending and then ask them to forgo competing for those funds without the input of their congressional representatives,” said Bennett spokeswoman Tara Hendershott DiJulio.

Also facing a competitive race, Rep. Pat Tiberi, Ohio Republican, in October called the final Democratic stimulus bill “loaded with [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi’s grab bag of big spending wishes” and that it “saddles future generations with mountains of debt.”

He struck a different tone in a letter to Mr. Vilsack.

“While this project is intended to expand rural broadband in Alaska, I understand that the project could support businesses and jobs in communities across the country,” Mr. Tiberi wrote, citing one such company in his district.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Tiberi said he is just fighting for jobs in his district.

“Congressman Tiberi didn’t support the stimulus bill, but when it comes down to parts of the bill that are actually going to support jobs, he’s going to come down on the side of supporting businesses and Ohio jobs,” Tiberi spokeswoman Breann Gonzalez said.

Job creation?

Other Republican lawmakers who wrote on behalf of projects applying for stimulus money don’t have any re-election worries anytime soon.

Before his vote against the stimulus, Sen. Mike Johanns, who took office last year from Nebraska, predicted that “the money would simply never reach the economy.”

A secretary of agriculture under President George W. Bush, Mr. Johanns later told the Grand Island, Neb., Independent newspaper that “it would be hard for me to imagine that we are going to be creating many jobs here.” Yet he saw the prospect of at least a few dozen jobs in a letter he later sent to Mr. Vilsack for a home-state project, records show.

“The proposed project would create 38 new jobs and bring broadband to eight hospitals, five colleges, 16 libraries and 161 K-12 schools,” Mr. Johanns wrote.

E-mails and calls to Mr. Johanns’ office were not returned.

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