Stimulus boosts D.C.-based special interests

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President Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus package has been a bonanza for D.C.-based special interest groups, like the National Council of La Raza, AARP and a fund for the Service Employees International Union.

The NCLR snagged $156,620 in stimulus cash and the AARP benefited from a whopping $18,176,224 according to the government.

The Washington Times found organizations cashing in on the stimulus include Georgetown University ($14,807,804), the Service Employees International Union Education and Support Fund ($265,136), the Lockheed Martin Aspen Systems Corp. ($1,866,582), the Urban Institute ($1,443,178), National Public Radio, Inc. ($50,000), the National Building Museum ($50,000), the Shakespeare Theatre ($50,000) and the Washington Chorus Inc. ($50,000).

The stimulus tracking Web site www.Recovery.gov has come under fire this week for listing up to 440 nonexistent congressional districts consuming more than $6 billion in stimulus funding, and now watchdogs are tracking down where that money went.

One of them is Matt Purple, a former Washington Times intern, who documented some of the D.C. stimulus dollars are being used to boost special interests at www.Watchdog.org. He highlighted money going to immigrants rights advocacy groups and other organizations taxpayers may object to funding, like churches. Catholic University of America, which is run by the Catholic Church, received more than $2 million. Catholic charities received $71,546 and Episcopalian charities took in $169,898, Mr. Purple found.

Watchdog.org is a project of the Franklin Center for Government Integrity and Policy a nonprofit dedicated to aggregating and highlighting reporting from state and local journalists to promote government transparency. Franklin Center President Jason Stverak said their team decided to start looking into the bad congressional districts and stimulus spending after seeing reports from New Mexico about it. Watchdog.org compiled a 15-page report documenting the “phantom districts” that is available on their Web site.

“We look at government and focus on transparency to provide citizens and taxpayers the information they need to make better decisions,” he said.

His organization, headquartered in North Dakota, was created this year and www.Watchdog.org went live in September.

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About the Author
Amanda Carpenter

Amanda Carpenter

Amanda Carpenter writes the daily "Hot Button" column for The Washington Times. She was formerly a national political reporter for Townhall.com, the leading online publication for news, opinion and talk. Prior to that, she was a reporter for Human Events. Ms. Carpenter has made numerous media appearances that include segments on the Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, BBC and other ...

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