Is Rep. Allen West Being a Hypocrite?

Fervent advocate for cutting government spending helped steer millions to his own district.

Posted: 03/18/2011 06:38 AM EDT
Allen West, earmarks

Rep. Allen West (R-Florida) is one of the House’s strongest proponents of cutting government spending, so much so that he voted against the second federal government stopgap funding measure this week because it doesn’t cut deeply enough. But on Wednesday he announced that his district had been awarded a $21 million grant to build a second commercial runway at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. According to a release from West’s office, West worked with the airport “through the grant process to ensure the funds would be allocated to the runway project.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) called West’s effort “amazing.” Republicans, he said “are taking food out of babies’ mouths through the WIC program, taking [millions] from Pell Grants, preventing literally hundreds of thousands of kids from … being able to go to Head Start and then you see … our colleague is announcing a $21 million project for a runway. I think it’s a contradiction, and I think it’s sad.”

West defended his support for the grant, saying that it was a competitive process and the airport’s growing activity warrants expansion. “I just put my recommendation on it,” he said.

Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Missouri) said, “Why don’t you just call it grant-slash-earmark?”

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)