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BOSTON (CBS/AP) – Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan denied requesting stimulus money for his home state of Wisconsin in a 2010 interview on WBZ NewsRadio 1030.
Ryan has been one of the harshest critics of President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan.
But months after Congress approved the nearly $800 billion package, he was trying to steer money under the program to companies in his home state.
Rep. Ryan wrote letters in 2009 to Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis seeking stimulus grant money for two Wisconsin energy conservation companies. One of those companies, the nonprofit Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corp, later received $20.3 million from the Energy Department to help homes and businesses improve energy efficiency, according to federal records.
But, in a October 28, 2010 interview on WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Nightside with Dan Rea, Ryan denied ever seeking stimulus money.
“I assume you voted against the stimulus and I’m just curious if you accepted any money in your district,” a caller, who identified himself as Joe from Stoughton, asked.
Listen: Paul Ryan on Nightside with Dan Rea 10/28/10
“No, I’m not one (of those) people who votes for something then writes to the government to ask them to send us money. I did not request any stimulus money,” Ryan responded.
Ryan’s actions in Congress and as chairman of the House Budget Committee have been drawing fresh scrutiny since he was named last weekend as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s running mate.
A Ryan spokesman, Brendan Buck, noted the congressman’s office’s previous explanations that he was “providing a legitimate constituent service.” The Wall Street Journal reported Ryan’s efforts to secure stimulus money two years ago.
“If Congressman Ryan is asked to help a Wisconsin entity applying for existing federal grant funds, he does not believe flawed policy should get in the way of doing his job,” Ryan’s office said then.
Ryan also sent three letters to Chu in October 2009 seeking stimulus money for the Energy Center of Wisconsin, another nonprofit organization that promotes energy efficiency. The company later received $190,000 in stimulus money to conduct research on geothermal heating and $50,000 more to develop a training curriculum for students at Milwaukee Area Technical College.
Ryan’s letters to the Energy Department were first reported by the Boston Globe.
The vice presidential contender is not alone among Republicans who criticized the stimulus plan only to seek money later. Georgia’s Republican senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, for example, blasted the bill as a bloated government giveaway yet asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates to steer $50 million in stimulus money to a constituent’s bio-energy project.
Ryan’s views are also consistent with his running mate’s long-held position that the stimulus was a flawed idea that did not create private sector jobs.
“That stimulus didn’t work,” Romney said at an Ohio speech in June. “That stimulus didn’t put more private-sector people to work.”
Yet, in Ryan’s letter to the Labor Department in October 2009, he backed the Energy Center of Wisconsin’s grant application for stimulus money “to develop an industry-driven training and placement agenda that intends to place 1,000 workers in green jobs.”
The company did not win the Labor Department grant.
(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)