Taxpayer Rip-Off of the Week: $1.87 Million for W.Va. Mountaineers

Tucked away in the isolated beauty of the Appalachian Mountains, little West Virginia is doing pretty well for itself. According to the nonpartisan Citizens Against Government Waste, West Virginia ranked 4th in pork per capita, with a total of 9,963 pork projects costing a record $29 billion in the 11 appropriations bills for the fiscal year 2006.

West Virginia’s ranking shouldn’t come as a great surprise given the fact that state’s veteran Democratic Senator Robert Byrd was named Porker of the Month by the Citizens Against Government Waste, not once, not twice, but three times, and even received the heady Porker of the Year award for 2002.

Thanks to Sen. Byrd and his partner in crime, Rep. Allan Mollohan (Porker of the Month, April 2006), West Virginia’s MountainMade Foundation received $1.87 million dollars from the Science, Departments of State, Justice, and Commerce, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2006 (H.R. 2862).

According to MountainMade’s website, "The isolation of the mountains . . . makes it difficult for our talented artists and craftspeople to gain access to the best markets in which to sell their work." In the early 1990s Congressman Mollohan suggested that West Virginian artists could gain more exposure for their work by using the World Wide Web to promote their creations. The Robert C. Byrd National Technology Transfer Center at Wheeling Jesuit University developed a website, and in November 2001, the non-profit MountainMade Foundation assumed administration of the program, seeking to "support and develop the West Virginia arts and crafts small businesses by assisting them with effective marketing of their work, expanding their businesses, and increasing demand for their work."

Pork has become an addiction. What is so shameful about the senator’s pork problem is that he demonstrates no shame at all, relishing his title of "Pork King" and stubbornly refusing to apologize to American taxpayers. You know there is a problem when our congressmen start putting their selfish political interests above the interests of the American people.

Rhode Island Senator Lincoln Chafee voted in favor of spending tax dollars on West Virginia’s MountainMade Foundation (Senate Roll Call Vote #329) on November 16, 2005.