Since the Coconut Road earmark scandal broke, Rep. Connie Mack (R-FL), whose district rejected $10 million for the unpopular interchange, has claimed he knew nothing about how the project made its way into the 2005 highway bill. And, in fact, he supports allowing local government to use the money for another project.
But today, The Hill's
Susan Crabtree reports
that Mack probably knew more than he's let on. According to a letter written by Mack in 2006 to Florida Gulf Coast University, he said he supported the interchange:
The Coconut Road Interchange, built in conjunction with the [Florida Gulf Coast University] Transportation Management Center, stands to be the cutting-edge demonstration project in America to study and improve hurricane and crisis evacuation transportation safety programs,â Mack wrote in the letter, which was addressed to Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) President William Merwin.
It's unclear, though, if Mack played a part in swapping the earmark's language after Congress voted on the highway bill but before the President signed the bill. Earlier this week, The Hill
reported that the Congressional Research Service reviewed such post-vote earmark changes and advised that they are unconstitutional