Monday, June 16, 2008
Rep. Jim Clyburn
The Post and Courier
Rep. Jim Clyburn
MYRTLE BEACH — South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn has earmarked millions of taxpayer dollars this decade for projects that could directly benefit his friends and family members, a newspaper reported Sunday.
The Sun News of Myrtle Beach found that Clyburn has set aside at least $6.2 million for such projects.
That includes money for two projects his nephew was to help design, a community center that runs a program employing his sister-in-law and a Columbia wellness center that employs his daughter.
Clyburn is the House majority whip. He was the sole sponsor for 32 earmarks totaling $38.8 million in the current budget.
In contrast, all of South Carolina's other lawmakers combined to sole-sponsor $45.5 million in earmarks in the same budget.
Clyburn's office did not return calls seeking comment, although he has repeatedly defended the earmark process, telling reporters last year that the special provisions help provide for community needs.
'I don't see that as wasteful government spending,' he told reporters in February 2007. 'I see that as responding to the needs these people said they had.'
Citizens Against Government Waste, a nonprofit group that watches taxpayer money, calls Clyburn 'hostile' toward taxpayers because of what is termed an extravagant use of public money.
'Mr. Clyburn is notorious for questionable earmarks,' said Leslie Paige, a spokeswoman for the group.
The group once named Clyburn as its Porker of the Month because he set aside $3 million in a military spending bill for the First Tee nonprofit agency. First Tee operates a program at a Columbia golf course named for the congressman. Clyburn defended the money on the House floor, saying the money would benefit military families.
This year's budget includes at least four earmarks that could benefit people close to Clyburn.
The veteran lawmaker helped secure $784,000 for the planning and design of the International African-American Museum in Charleston. Clyburn's nephew, Derrick Ballard, is one of the lead architects on that project.
Similarly, in 2005, Clyburn earmarked $145,500 for a community center to be designed by Ballard.
He also set aside $229,000 in this year's budget to the Charles R. Drew Wellness Center in Columbia — a facility he helped construct with a 2003 earmark of $990,000. His daughter, Angela, is the marketing and membership director there.
He got $282,000 appropriated for The South Sumter Resource Center, where his sister-in- law, Gwendolyn, is housing coordinator for the center's community development division. He's secured $670,000 for the resource center in past budgets.
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