Remember when Obama Commerce Secretary nominee Republican Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) decided not to take the job on account of Gregg’s unwillingness to join an administration that was fiscally irresponsible. Well, there might have been something else involved:
Sen. Judd Gregg, President Barack Obama’s former nominee for commerce secretary, won taxpayer money for redevelopment of a shuttered Air Force base where he and his brother had invested in commercial property, an Associated Press investigation found.
Gregg, R-N.H., has personally invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in Cyrus Gregg’s office projects at the Pease International Tradeport, a Portsmouth business park built at the defunct Pease Air Force Base, once home to nuclear bombers. Judd Gregg has collected at least $240,017 to $651,801 from his investments there, Senate records show, while helping to arrange at least $66 million in federal aid for the former base….
But the senator’s mixture of personal and professional business would have been difficult to square with President Barack Obama’s campaign promise to impose greater transparency and integrity over federal budget earmarks — funding for lawmakers’ pet projects. Gregg said that during his consideration for the Cabinet job, the White House did not know about his Pease earmarks, although the administration knew about his investments at Pease….
The head of a watchdog group, Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said Gregg’s actions have the appearance of a conflict of interest, even if they did not fall under the Senate’s narrow definition of an actual conflict.
“He increased the value of property, which caused his own investment to increase in value,” she said. “So, it appears that he earmarked and then financially benefited from his own earmark.” Sloan noted that Gregg secured earmarks for Pease beyond those sought for the National Guard and city.
“I’ve throughout my entire lifetime been involved in my family’s businesses and that’s just the way our family works,” he said. “We support each other and our activities.”
Ah, support. IOKIYAR…