Last week, John Stanton from Roll Call had a great article on how a top aide to Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) is using his position to secure earmarks and funding to a town in which he is also an elected local official – which is against House rules.
A top aide to Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) has used his employment with the House to help win local races, repeatedly claiming in campaign literature and public meetings that he is responsible for securing millions in federal earmarks for the village of Oak Lawn, while also racking up thousands in campaign contributions from companies with business before Lipinski’s Congressional committees.
Lipinski’s state chief of staff, Jerry Hurckes, who also worked for the Congressman’s father, former Rep. Bill Lipinski (D-Ill.), has served as an elected member of the Oak Lawn Board of Trustees since 1999.
His positions as a Lipinski staffer sparked a brouhaha in Oak Lawn following a March 11 board meeting during which he castigated the village manager and other board members for meeting with a Washington, D.C.-based Congressional lobbyist, accusing them of attempting “to do an end run around [him] and not deal with Jerry Hurckes.”
…House ethics rules bar staff who also hold elected office from using federal resources to benefit their constituents.
…For years Hurckes has used his position as a top aide to both Lipinskis as a selling point in his Oak Lawn races. In a 2007 mailer sent to voters, Hurckes took credit for securing federal funding for the village, including being “responsible for helping secure over $4 million for the Village of Oak Lawn … responsible for helping obtain the funding for the Oak Lawn Children Museum … [and] responsible for funding for emergency light systems” for traffic signals in the village.
…Repeatedly using the phrase “It was I who” to preface his accomplishments, Hurckes ticked off earmarks he claimed to have secured for the village, including funding for Advocate Christ Medical Center, $100,000 for the Oak Lawn Children’s Museum, nearly $4 million in transportation infrastructure funds and a $600,000grant to the village’s fire department. Hurckes also claimed to have intervened with the Army Corps of Engineers as part of the village’s efforts to deal with longstanding flooding problems. “It was I that brought… the Army Corps of Engineers,” Hurckes said.
Hurckes also complained that it was a waste of village funds to hire lobbyists in Washington given his role as Lipinski’s local chief of staff. “I don’t think we need to have an outside firm to do the job we should be doing inside. As the Congressman’s chief of staff in the Chicagoland office … we are the ones who have helped in the past get this funding here, and if you disagree, the proof is in the pudding right there. So I think us going out and hiring a lobbyist — not a consultant, not a helper, it’s a lobbyist — is a waste of our funds.” …
This article is interesting in that it touches on several issues we have been following – corruption in the earmarking process, how earmarks not awarded by merit but by position and influence, and local governments hiring lobbyists to acquire earmarks.