The Lexington Herald-Leader Editorial blasted U.S. Representative Hal Rogers in an editorial that was posted May 20 on kentucky.com at http://www.kentucky.com/mld/kentucky/news/editorial/14626297.htm and that editorial is here copied in its entirety:
Congressman embarrasses Kentuckians
Dear fellow Americans,
On behalf of the people of Kentucky, let us assure you that we may be a poor state, but we wouldn't prolong your risk of terrorist attack or hijacking just to bring jobs here.
We wouldn't have steered work our way by delaying the safety benefits from a new secure identification card for transportation workers. And we wouldn't have pushed for an inferior system so Kentuckians could make the ID cards.
We're embarrassed that that's how Rep. Hal Rogers has used his hold on homeland security purse strings.
It was fine when Rogers corralled green card production for his district pre-9/11. That's what powerful lawmakers do. But if his more recent maneuverings really have kept airliners and ports less safe longer, we're sorry.
Like you, we noticed in recent New York Times reporting that the Somerset Republican raked in more than just jobs. About $100,000 in political contributions have come his way from parties with an interest in the development or production of the ID cards.
An industry analyst described Rogers' manipulation of these decisions as "the sickest example of what is wrong with our homeland security agenda that I can find."
Kentuckians have kept Rogers in Congress for a quarter-century and applauded his budgetary prowess. We also believed President Bush when he said that we're engaged in an open-ended war with terrorists.
So we have to wonder: Is it war profiteering to turn the homeland security budget into a pork barrel? Or for Rogers to receive favors from private interests that stand to profit from his influence over that money?
One of the parties to whom Rogers has steered homeland security business has given him more than $75,000 in travel, including six trips to Hawaii, four to California and one to Ireland, and $18,000 in contributions. Rogers traveled for two weeks last year alone on the American Association of Airport Executives' tab.
Rogers' staff tried to pressure the Transportation Security Administration into voluntarily hiring the trade group to do background checks on airline, rail and maritime workers. When that didn't work, Rogers mandated it in legislation.
Under pressure from competitors, the single-source contract was canceled last week.
This week, Rogers earmarked $41 million for a data center that he hopes will end up in his district and that, according to The Associated Press, "would mirror information processing work done at a Mississippi facility obtained by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran."
Rogers says his actions have been aimed at speeding up production of ID cards. But, as the Times reports, two years beyond a planned deadline, production of the cards has yet to begin.
Even though Kentucky has been on the receiving end this time, we know all too well the pitfalls when government operates by rewarding the connected at the expense of other needs. Our state has often been a victim of such governing. It's why we're weak in education, high in poverty and strong on graveling private driveways before elections.
We're sorry that post-9/11 security has fallen victim to that kind of politics at the hands of a Kentuckian."