A Washington Post investigation called “Capitol Assets” names members of Congress who have helped direct more than $300 million in earmarks to dozens of public projects for work in close proximity to commercial and residential real estate owned by them or their family members.
Mississippi’s Rep. Bennie Thompson and Rep. Roger Wicker were named in the report.
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D – Miss.)
Earmark near personal property: $900,000
Thompson helped secure $900,000 that was used in 2010 to resurface about two dozen roads in Hinds County, Miss. One of those was a quarter-mile residential loop in Bolton, where Thompson owns a home, as does his daughter. “I didn’t say, “Do the street that I live on,” Thompson said. “The earmark went to the county. It had no designation on it whatsoever, and that was it.” He said he secured paving earmarks for other counties as well.
Sen. Roger Wicker (R – Miss.)
Earmark near personal property: $1.5 million
While a member of the House in 2003, Wicker helped secure $1.5 million to study the relocation of railroad tracks at an intersection in downtown Tupelo, Miss. Wicker’s home is less than a half-mile northwest of the intersection. Wicker said in a statement: “City leaders requested the funding to begin to address the traffic congestion caused by a major railway switch that is located near a major street intersection. I requested funds for a similar rail study for Greenville and several highway studies throughout the state.”
Full statement provided by Sen. Wicker *
Spending with family connections: $45 million
As a congressman and then a senator, Wicker has helped secure more than $45 million for the University of Mississippi since 2008. His wife has been employed there since 2006 as coordinator of student services at the Tupelo campus. Wicker said in a statement: “I have supported funding for sensible studies at each of Mississippi’s four research institutions, Ole Miss, Mississippi State University, Southern Miss, and Jackson State. These projects have led to improvements in health care, education, and other critical areas.”
* Rick Curtsinger, a spokesman for Wicker, provided a statement from the
“The Tupelo rail service study, like many other transportation projects in
Mississippi, was needed to find solutions to a long‐known, demonstrated
problem. City leaders requested the funding to begin to address the
traffic congestion caused by a major railway switch that is located near a
major street intersection. I requested funds for a similar rail study for
Greenville and several highway studies throughout the state.”
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