Canton Repository

3-15-01

First ladies’ museum called ‘pork’ project 

By PAUL M. KRAWZAK
Copley Washington correspondent

WASHINGTON — Federal spending of $500,000 on the National First Ladies’ Library in Canton last year was an example of “pork,” or wasteful federal spending, an annual report charges.

The half million bucks spent on the museum is listed among more than 6,000 other allegedly wasteful projects in the “2001 Congressional Pig Book Summary” put out by the nonprofit Citizens Against Government Waste.

The report noted the library is in the district of Rep. Ralph Regula, R-Navarre, who as chairman of an appropriations subcommittee wrote the $500,000 for the library into the federal budget.

Pork, as defined by the group, is spending that meets at least one of several criteria. Those criteria include spending that was requested by only one chamber of Congress, spending that was not competitively
awarded, and spending that serves only a local or special interest.

Mary Regula, the congressman’s wife, founded the library and serves as its chairwoman and president.

Rep. Regula defended the library, which he said is the first institution to tell the story of “the history of the first ladies and their impact on the nation’s history.”

The watchdog organization also criticized what it said was a substantial increase in pork spending by the U.S. Department of the Interior. As former chairman of the Interior Subcommittee in the House Appropriations Committee, Regula played a key role in shaping that agency’s budget.

The report said Interior pork spending rose to $616 million from $332 million the previous year.

In response, Regula said the Interior spending bill passed by the House was a “lean” $14.1 billion, but it grew to $19.8 billion by the time it passed the Senate. According to Regula, additional spending was added to the bill to pay for fighting forest fires out West and to finance demands made by President
Clinton and the Senate.

The group said pork projects overall rose by $18.5 billion, a 4-percent increase over the previous year.

“Just like the apes clawing at the mysterious monolith at the beginning of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ appropriators saw the mountain of money created by the budget surplus and grabbed so many of the taxpayers’ dollars that they created a new epic, ‘2001: A Pork Odyssey,’ ” the report said.