By Adam Andrzejewski for RealClearPolicy
The $1.7 trillion omnibus package backed by Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) included a provision to give $200 million to the Appalachian Regional Commission, an agency headed by Manchin’s wife, Gail.
The Appalachian Regional Commission serves as an economic development partnership between the federal government and the 13 Appalachian states, distributing infrastructure grants to those states.
Related: Omnibus Spending Bill’s New Earmarks Cost $16 Billion
Its head, Gail Manchin, earned $160,000 in her role as its federal co-chair, according to a Fox News report. He was confirmed by the Senate in 2021.
The $200 million in funding is a $5 million increase over last year.
“The West Virginia senator previously helped craft earlier legislation, following his wife’s 2021 appointment, that earmarked $1 billion in funding over five years for the ARC,” Fox reported. Sen. Manchin was a key Democratic negotiator of the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which doubled the commission’s funding levels.
Gayle Manchin defended the spending increase in 2021, claiming the funding is necessary, “to more adequately meet the overwhelming needs of communities impacted by job losses from the collapse of the coal industry. These grants will support Appalachia’s long-term diversification and economic growth.”
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This isn’t the only example of federal money being sent to family members in public bills. Rep. Jim Cooper sent $2.7 million to metro Nashville, where his brother John Cooper is mayor. Sen. Ben Ray Lujan secured $152 million for his home state of New Mexico, where Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is a distant relative.
RELATED: Trump calls for expulsion of GOP senators who voted for $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill
Sending money to an organization headed by a spouse is not illegal, but it presents a clear conflict of interest that undermines trust between the people and their government.
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Syndicated with permission from RealClearWire.
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