Monday, July 19, 2010

Fighting Words: 7/18/10 Cartoon...

"Norm Dicks' Earmarks"

Been a while since I posted on this blog, so here's a good opportunity. My latest cartoon did not make it into the Kitsap Sun this time, although it was nobody's fault... circumstances of the story changed a bit after I had finished the 'toon.

Rep. Norm Dicks has a long history of being quite generous in handing out earmarks to local companies, even some to campaign donors such as Port Townsend company Intellichek Mobilisa. Dicks has been under even more scrutiny lately, having emerged from an ethics investigation connected to earmarks, which lead to new self-imposed rules stating that he would "not approve requests for earmarks that are directed to for-profit entities." Of course, Dicks has also garnered attention as the newly-appointed chairman of the powerful Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, taking over for the late John Murtha.

A couple of weeks ago, the HuffPo Investigative Fund released a report suggesting that Dicks was already finding ways around this new rule, by funneling the earmarks to companies via non-profit groups. In this case, although the earmark was directed to the University of Washington, it appeared as though Intellichek Mobilisa was still receiving money, since they often worked closely with UW on such projects. After HuffPo broke the story, both Dicks and Intellicheck Mobilisa rather forcefully denied the report. And then, after the 'toon was done, it appeared that HuffPo was wavering and might not even stand by their own reporting.

I still think Dicks handled the earmark poorly from a P.R. standpoint if nothing else, even if he didn't technically do anything wrong. I haven't seen anyone deny the fact that the language in previous Intellichek Mobilisa earmarks is nearly identical to the UW earmark, which to me just looks bad. With all the increased scrutiny he's been under, I would've hoped he'd have handled it a bit more tactfully...