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Creationists, earmarks and David Vitter

The National Center for Science Education reports that disgraced United State Senator David Vitter withdrew his “earmark” which was supposed to funnel $100,000 to the Louisiana Family Forum, a right-wing religious group in Louisiana.  The NCSE article reports:

The earmark was the topic of instant controversy after the New Orleans Times-Picayune (September 22, 2007) reported on it, explaining, “The money in the earmark will pay for a report suggesting ‘improvements’ in science education in Louisiana, the development and distribution of educational materials and an evaluation of the effectiveness of the Ouachita Parish School Board’s 2006 policy that opened the door to biblically inspired teachings in science classes.”

It’s amazing that Vitter would be this shameless, except when you realise that this is the same sexual morality campaigner who apparently has a taste for prostitutes.  Despite being a non-profit (and thus, not allowed to engage in politics) the Louisiana Family Forum is reported to have close ties to Vitter.

Dan Richey, the group’s grass-roots coordinator, was paid $17,250 as a consultant in Vitter’s 2004 Senate race. Records also show that Vitter’s campaign employed Beryl Amedée, the education resource council chairwoman for the Louisiana Family Forum.

The group has been an advocate for the senator, who was elected as a strong supporter of conservative social issues. When Vitter’s use of a Washington, D.C., call-girl service drew comparisons last month to the arrest of Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho … Family Forum Executive Director Gene Mills came to Vitter’s defense.

Where I come from, it is a crime for politicians to corruptly enrich their supporters.  Granted, it’s commonplace, but it’s still against the law.  What baffles me about American politics is the fact that this sort of behaviour is legal.  What would be called “kickbacks” elsewhere is called “earmarks”.  Rather than talking about how the served the country, legislators boast about how much money the managed to “bring home” – even when it involves building bridges to nowhere, several of them.  While the most outrageous of these projects eventually draw enough public outrage that they get removed, the problem is the principle of it.

H/T Scott Hatfield, who said:

What would this country’s educational establishment do without a watchdog like NCSE, which probably mobilized most of the pressure on Vitter’s colleagues to not ‘look the other way’ when the Senator attempted to sneak this through?

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