OCTOBER 06, 2008
A veteran Florida congressman known for submitting few earmarks has never the less steered millions of federal dollars to a pair of small defense contractors in his district that have donated heavily to his political campaign and that of his brother.
Republican Lincoln Diaz-Balart, who has represented south Florida’s 21st District in the U.S. House since 1992, is not a big earmarker compared to most lawmakers but his federal allocations have certainly raised suspicion. That’s because they have gone largely to obscure firms in his Miami-Dade district that have given him and his brother, fellow Florida Republican Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, tens of thousands of dollars.
The small companies (Locust USA and Mark Two Engineering) gave the Diaz-Balart brothers nearly $70,000 while big brother Lincoln sponsored $9.2 million in federal earmarks for the firms, which operate out of small warehouses in a rundown part of Miami-Dade County called Medley.
A member of the House Rules Committee and the Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process, Lincoln Diaz-Balart ranks 12th this year among Florida’s 25 federal representatives when it comes to earmarks. He has submitted $10 million in earmarks, which doesn’t come close to the Sunshine State’s top pork spender, St. Petersburg Republican C.W. Young at $134 million.
A few months ago the Diaz-Balarts were also in hot water for backing legislation to expand insurance coverage for prosthetic devices after the local newspaper revealed a prosthetics maker contributed more than $10,000 to their campaigns weeks before they sponsored the measure.
Both brothers are up for reelection this November. Lincoln faces the former longtime Democratic mayor of Hialeah (Raul Martinez), who was convicted of extortion and racketeering in the early 1990s. The conviction was reversed on appeal and Martinez, a Hillary Clinton supporter and fundraiser, somehow went on to gain national prominence in his party. Little brother Mario faces former Miami-Dade Democratic party Chief Joe Garcia.
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