U.S. Rep. Todd Akin (PoliticMo Photo)
JOPLIN, Mo. — As his primary rivals chide him for his support of the congressional spending practice known as earmarking, U.S. Rep. Todd Akin is continuing to tout his support of the process.
In an interview this week after his campaign released its most recent commercial highlighting an Akin earmark success story, Akin said the practice is a legitimate way to appropriate funds.
“Some people call amendments ‘earmarks’, I call them amendments,” he said.
The new commercial features the story of a military spouse who claims her
husband was saved by Akin’s support of a directed spending measure in support of armor for humvees in use in Iraq by American soldiers.
“Roadside bombs were killing our troops; the vehicles didn’t have enough armor. Congressman Todd Akin went to Iraq, and after an investigation helped get newly armored vehicles to our troops,” the woman said. “After getting the new armor, my husband’s humvee was hit. He’s alive today because of Todd Akin.”
On the campaign trail, Akin has defended the appropriations tactic as entirely constitutional, claiming it to be a congressional oversight on what would be otherwise a presidential power.
Akin’s primary opponents, former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman and St. Louis businessman John Brunner, have strongly criticized Akin’s use of earmarks. The Brunner campaign released an ad highlighting Akin’s support of earmarking funds for a road improvement project near land being developed by the Akins in St. Louis, as reported by the Washington Post last year.
If Akin wins the primary (Akin interjected, “I believe we will”), he would be responsible for carrying the party’s torch against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, one of the first lawmakers to champion earmark reform, in the November election. McCaskill has joined with conservatives like Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn to ban the use of earmarks, which Democrats believe could allow her to get to the right of Akin on the issue.
Akin laughed off the idea that the earmarks issue could somehow benefit McCaskill with the conservative voters. Pointing to her support of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Akin said McCaskill’s record makes Tea Party Republicans — many of whom oppose earmarks — “sick to their stomachs.”
“To say that she’s against earmarks is about as truthful than to say she’s passed a budget in the Senate,” he said.
Akin wrapped up a statewide tour on Friday with a rally in St. Louis. Voters head to the polls to pick a nominee on Aug. 7.