Dredging up a 2008 earmark by Rep. Donnelly

2012-02-07T18:18:00Z Dredging up a 2008 earmark by Rep. DonnellyBy Doug Ross doug.ross@nwi.com, (219) 548-4360 or (219) 933-3357 nwitimes.com

U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., is the king of the earmarks, right? Isn't that what conventional wisdom and past experience would have Northwest Indiana residents believe? Yet Visclosky wasn't mentioned in a Washington Post report Monday about the use of earmarks to fund projects near lawmakers' homes.

His colleague Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., is on the list, though. In 2008, the Washington Post reported, Donnelly earmarked $935,000 for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dredge the Michigan City harbor about two miles down the road from the Donnelly family's expensive Lake Shore Drive vacation home.

Could the earmark come back to haunt Donnelly? Well, maybe, although it probably shouldn't.

"A spokeswoman for Donnelly said the city's mayor requested the project, it was vetted by the ethics committee and it had been funded by Congress 'in 14 of the last 18 fiscal years before Congressman Donnelly first took office' " the Washington Post reported.

But this is an election year, and a bizarre one at that, so anything is possible.

Donnelly is running for U.S. Senate, now that the Democrat's 2nd Congressional District is solidly Republican, thanks to redistricting.

Donnelly will face the winner of the contentious Republican primary race between longtime Sen. Dick Lugar and state Treasurer Richard Mourdock. It's no secret that Mourdock is the Tea Party's darling in this race.

Lugar recently voted against ending earmarks, saying it's the way to thwart the Obama administration on projects the GOP holds dear but the Democratic Party doesn't. Mourdock pounced on him, saying earmarks are vile.

So if Mourdock wins the primary, Donnelly could expect some flak from that Washington Post report. If Lugar wins, they'll have to find something else to fight about -- and rest assured they will.

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Robert Blaszkiewicz

Robert Blaszkiewicz

Robert Blaszkiewicz is a Northwest Indiana native and joined The Times in 1994. He has filled a variety of roles, including night editor, Porter County editor, features editor and new media coordinator. His current position is assistant managing editor for operations.

Doug Ross

Doug Ross

Doug Ross has been covering Northwest Indiana for 30 years, including two decades at The Times of Northwest Indiana.

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