Lemieux earmark part of 18th District debate
The challenger for Republican Congressman Tim Murphy's 18th District seat in the November election is criticizing the incumbent's $100,000 earmark in 2010 for a charity founded by Mario Lemieux.
Washington County Commissioner Larry Maggi said on Tuesday that he would never give taxpayers' money to celebrity charities — not when there's a $16 trillion federal deficit and too many Americans need jobs.
“Tim Murphy has a history of saying one thing and doing another, which is why he campaigns against earmarks and gave taxpayer money to a lobster institute in Maine and $50,000 for a mule museum in California,” said Maggi, a Democrat, retired Pennsylvania State trooper and former Washington County sheriff.
The Tribune-Review reported on the Murphy earmark to Lemieux's charity as part of its “Unlevel Playing Field” investigation on Sunday, which revealed current and former athletes such as Penguins co-owner Lemieux, Baltimore Orioles iron man Cal Ripken Jr., multimillionaire tennis star Andre Agassi and billionaire golfer Tiger Woods received millions in taxpayer dollars for their charities.
Murphy and his campaign staffers didn't return messages seeking comment for the stories, so the Trib met the congressman at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday for the new classrooms at Greensburg's Private Industry Council.
Murphy refused to discuss his other earmarks since arriving in Washington in 2002, but defended the Centers for Disease Control earmark to help fund Lemieux's anti-cancer campaign — even when the cancer survivor's foundation reported having more than $2.4 million in private donations of its own to spend.
“That's not an issue,” said Murphy. “It was helping people with cancer.”
Maggi agreed that Lemieux's charity, which also built five children's playrooms in medical facilities around the region, is a “great cause.” However, Maggi said deficit spending shouldn't have funded it. Maggi lost his wife, Ceridwen, to cancer in 1989. Doctors found a tumor roped around her spine while she was pregnant with their son, Ian Lawrence. The baby died two weeks after being born.
In the GOP primary in April, Tea Party member Evan Feinberg snatched 37 percent of the Republican vote after relentlessly drilling Murphy on the incumbent's spending.
An analysis of legislative earmarks from 2008-10 performed by the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics found 61 percent of Murphy's earmarks went to campaign donors — fourth highest in the 111th Congress.
A self-imposed moratorium on earmark spending has ruled Congress for the past two years.
There's no record of Lemieux or his family contributing to Murphy's campaign. The Trib investigation found that Lemieux's charity has spent $202,763 on lobbyists to help obtain more than $500,000 in state and federal grants since 2004.
The Trib also found a needy charity that tirelessly spreads the message about cancer – without the help of lobbyists, celebrity athletes or large government grants. Patients Against Lymphoma pays its full-time president, Karl Schwartz of Bucks County, $18,000 annually out of a budget that's never crested above $45,000. Because the nonprofit counsels patients about treatment trials and frets about the appearance of impropriety, it's refused health industry help since its founding in 2002.
Schwartz didn't know that the CDC and other agencies were handing out $100,000 grants to alert the public about lymphoma. The nonprofit reports 8,000 subscribers to its online forums on cancer survivor issues and 50,000 unique visitors arrive monthly to check out its “Lymphomation” website.
“We're struggling,” said Schwartz. “I don't even have the resources to travel to Washington, much less hire a lobbyist.”
Carl Prine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7826 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Man, child hit by car late Saturday in South Side
- Court attire can have impact, public defenders say
- Newsmaker: Katherine A. Davoli
- Tiny black weevils booming in W.Pa.
- Man fatally shot in East Liberty; police investigating 2nd shooting
- Closures planned for Parkway West
- Homewood woman accused of card game stabbing
- Higher school taxes prevail in Western Pennsylvania, Trib finds
- Public implored to avoid iPhone cases that resemble guns
- Independence Day festivities scheduled
- Cleveland bank to show century-old paintings, artifacts