In tonight’s Fox News GOP presidential forum, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) attempted to argue that if elected president, he will eliminate “wasteful spending.” As evidence, he claimed that he has never asked for an earmark for his state of Arizona:
And I’m proud to tell you, Chris, in 24 years as a member of Congress, I have never asked for nor received a single earmark or pork barrel project for my state and I guarantee you I’ll veto those bills. I’ll ask for the line item veto and I’ll veto them and I’ll make the authors of them famous.
McCain’s claim is false. In 2006, the senator teamed up with fellow Arizona senator Jon Kyl (R) to funnel $10 million toward the University of Arizona for an academic center named after the late Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist. Even Arizona lawmaker, Rep. Jeff Flake (R), said he was planning to “lean against the measure.” The National Taxpayers Union, another traditional McCain ally, questioned why the senator was making federal taxpayers foot the bill for the center.
In 2003, McCain also slipped $14.3 million into a defense appropriations bill to
create a buffer zone around Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. As Roll Call reported in 2003, this project violated McCain’s own anti-pork rhetoric:
The only problem is the project to acquire more land near the base was not requested by President Bush or fully authorized by the Senate Armed Services Committee – two of McCain’s criteria for identifying so-called ‘pork.