With a federal investigation into influence-peddling allegations knocking on his office door, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) said yesterday he may ban earmarks from the spending bill he oversees. âI donât like things that look questionable,â he told Roll Call yesterday.
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Some might beg to differ.
Three weeks before election day 2004, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) -- facing surprisingly stiff opposition to his re-election bid -- took $74,000 in campaign contributions from a group of folks whose employer appreciates government money. Weeks later, Specter helped shower the organization with millions in earmarks, according to a nonpartisan government watchdog.
The group of donors, senior executives representing the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), gave the money to Specter as a bundle of 90 separate checks at a private, UMPC-only event at Piittsburgh's Duquesne Club on Oct. 18, 2004. Three weeks later, Specter was re-elected.
Three weeks after that, the senator squeezed out an appropriations bill laden with millions in earmarks for the group's employer, a private, "not-for-profit" multi-billion-dollar health care behemoth, Pennsylvania's second largest employer.
"It's somewhat problematic," said Naomi Seligman Steiner of the left-leaning watchdog, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). "There's nothing illegal here," she observed, "[but] there's no question that he needs to avoid even the appearance of impropriety."