Although Jack Murtha currently occupies the center stage when it comes to earmarks and, more generally, the culture of corruption in Congress, we should not forget about Alan Mollohan, a West Virginia Democrat. Mollohan, who until recently was the top Democrat on the House Ethics Committee, has been under investigation for steering millions of dollars into his district, much of which found its way into the hands of his friends and supporters while his own net worth sky-rocketed.
One would hope that, as a side-effect, the money might at lesat benefit Mollohan’s district, however slightly. But even that does not appear always to be the case. According to Roll Call, the town of Davis, West Virginia is trying to undo their Congressman’s “largesse” by taking back land a local nonprofit bought with federal money provided by one of Mollohan’s earmarks. The town wants to condemn 6 acres of the portion of land that the non-profit bought in 2002 for $7 million, money that came from earmarks Mollohan attached to the budget for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It argues that the land in question is perilously close to the reservoir that supplies the local drinking water, so that construction within the area could foul the water. Ironically, the project for which Mollohan earmarked funds is supposed to be studying “watershed science” and conservation. Mollohan has asked the U.S. Department of Commerce, which oversees NOAA, to intervene to prevent the comdemnation.
This isn’t the only way in which Mollohan’s earmarks may be hurting his constituents, even as they appear to be enriching him. It seems that the federal government has bought up so much property with Mollohan earmarks that the county’s property tax base is shrinking drastically. The mayor of Davis told Roll Call that
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