Information in the new book “Throw Them All Out” by Peter Schweizer, a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, suggests that Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson created a 2010 earmark benefiting a small California airport to appease Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who had helped him become chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security.
However, the assertion is an error. The runway earmark was made by Rep. Mike Thompson of California.
Schweizer used information from reputable investigative reporting sites OpenSecrets.org and Legistorm, which import earmark data from Taxpayers for Common Sense. The MBJ has spoken with OpenSecrets and Taxpayers for Common Sense. It appears there may have been an initial confusion of the two Thompsons in the Taxpayers’ data. OpenSecrets has updated its information to reflect the most current Taxpayers’ information, which shows the earmark was made by the congressman from California.
Congressman Bennie Thompson’s office provided the MBJ with the 2010 conference report from the U.S. Department of Transportation, of which page 469 reflects the California representative’s activity.
Excerpt from the book:
“Congressman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi inserted into the 2010 federal budget an earmark to expand a small regional airport. The airport was not in his district. It was not in the state of Mississippi. Indeed, it wasn’t even in the South. Thompson’s earmark was for $800,000 to upgrade the Napa Valley, California, airport — specifically, for a ‘runway 36L glidescope (sic).’
“Why would a congressman from Mississippi put in an earmark for an airport dubbed ‘Skyport to Wine Country’? Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that Nancy Pelosi had contributed to his rise to the chairmanship of the House Committee on Homeland Security. The Pelosis own a vineyard and home in St. Helena, California, worth between $5 million and $25 million, and another property nearby. They also own a stake in an exclusive resort called Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford, worth between $1 million and $5 million. All of these properties are north of the airport, sitting beneath what had been the flight path for planes coming in to land. But with the new glideslope, according to the airport, more planes would be able to approach from the south. The Pelosi properties would be spared from overhead noise.”