Anti-Inouye watchdog needs watching
IT APPEARS that the self-appointed "watchdog" group that brands Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye as Congress's biggest purveyor of pork might need its own watchdog.
Citizens Against Government Waste brags it is a private nonprofit, nonpolitical group whose only purpose is to monitor and lobby against government waste, fondly referred to in Washington as "pork-barrel spending." CAGW is known for its pithy, entertaining rants against certain pet projects that congressional representatives get funded that seem to have no real purpose other than to "bring home the bacon" to their states. For instance, it recently criticized a $20 million Hawaii project for the Army to provide "land buffers" along base boundaries. "Thanks to programs like (this) the ecosystem for oinkers is thriving in Hawaii," it said in a recent publication.
CAGW often identifies Inouye as the biggest "porker" in Congress, who, because of his position on powerful Senate committees and long political career, brings millions home.
Now it turns out that maybe CAGW is being a little foxy while pursuing porkers.
After seeing my column last week dumping on the CAGW for dumping on Dan, Bill Adair, Washington bureau chief for the St. Petersburg Times, sent me a piece he wrote exposing that CAGW takes money from certain groups and then attacks opponents of those groups who receive government money. And the CAGW doesn't disclose its own self-dealing.
FOR INSTANCE, CAGW curiously railed against the California Avocado Commission's fight against imported Mexican avocados without disclosing it had received $100,000 from Mexican avocado growers. It also lobbied against federal regulation of the tobacco industry without revealing it had taken at $245,000 from tobacco companies, Adair reported. That's some watchdog!
It makes you wonder whether CAGW was paid off by companies or organizations secretly against some of Hawaii's so-called "pork" projects. For instance, it criticized Inouye's snagging of $11.5 million to develop a telescope in Hawaii to find space objects that could crash into Earth. Did CAGW get any money from Mexican telescope developers?
CAGW belittled Hawaii getting $4.5 million to develop a bandage for the military that uses chitosan, a medicinal compound derived from shrimp heads, a byproduct of shrimp production. Shrimp byproducts on a commercial scale come from places like Indonesia, Vietnam and, yes, even Mexico. It would be nice to know if CAGW has received any money from other countries or foreign corporations interested in cutting Hawaii or the United States out of the chitosan development market. But we won't know, because CAGW is a private enterprise that doesn't have to -- and generally won't -- say where it gets its money. Perhaps there's room for a new watchdog group: Citizens Against Secrecy of Citizens Against Government Waste.
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