Calling him the “Prince of Pork”, an ethics watchdog group says U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, has funneled more than $236 million in federal funds to several non-profit organizations that he created.
In March, Rogers swore off earmarks and joined a GOP pledge to cut spending and reduce the deficit, saying America was at a crossroad. As political observers noted, the 14-term congressman was a well-known defender of steering federal funding back to his district, but like many longtime GOP leaders (re: U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.) he publicly denounced the practice after Tea Party candidates were elected to Congress.
After a three-month investigation, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington claims that Rogers has found ways to circumvent the earmark ban, and has established a non-profit “empire”.
Rep. Rogers sits at the center of an interconnected web that includes Kentucky nonprofit groups, a bank he partially owns, and several companies he has supported with federal money. These entities have strong ties to Rep. Rogers and to each other, and help extend the congressman’s influence in his district.
CREW’s research shows that Rep. Rogers’ empire is larger and more complicated than it may have appeared initially, and he’s unlikely to let it wither for want of federal funds. When the “reformed” Rep. Rogers retains money in the budget for Rural Business Enterprise Grants awarded through the Agriculture Department, he’s speaking in code. Money from those programs, and others at agencies ranging from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to the Department of Education, has a tendency to flow to the entities in Rep. Rogers’ web.
The report also outlines that Rogers’ family members, aides, donors and business associates have benefited from his pork being passed out under the table.
For instance, Rogers’ son, John, worked for one Kentucky company—Senture—that received a $4 million contract from the Department of Homeland Security with Rogers’ help back in 2004. Senture, which has now added offices in several other states, announced last year that it would receive contracts from several other federal agencies, including the Veterans Administration and Education Department.
In one previously undisclosed incident, Rogers directly intervened in helping boost a Small Business Administration disaster loan for a marina owner who is also a donor to Rogers’ congressional campaign, according to documents obtained by CREW.
That businessman, J.D. Hamilton, sought Rogers’ backing in dealing the SBA. His company also hired a lobbying firm that employed a former Rogers’ aide and whose employees have donated more than $13,000 to Rogers’ campaign or leadership PAC.
Read the report summary here.