Controversial Earmarks Plague Mollohan

By westvirginia on November 9, 2009
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Much attention has been shined by West Virginia Watchdog on the ties between the Vandalia Heritage Foundation and Rep. Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va., but the congressman has continued to support other groups closely tied to his political history.

Mollohan has been under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice since 2006 for not reporting his income and misusing his position on the House Appropriations Committee by funneling millions of dollars of earmarks to friends and associates, including five West Virginia non-profits created by the congressman: Vandalia, MountainMade, the Institute for Scientific Research, the West Virginia High Technology Consortium, and the Canaan Valley Institute.

The Canaan Valley Institute (CVI) was created to deal with streambank erosion and polluted waters, and inadequate wastewater treatment systems. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington showed the connections between Canaan and Mollohan:

“In 2006, CVI was building a $33 million headquarters on 3,028 acres of land, which was being paid for with earmarks secured by Rep. Mollohan. Having received at least $28 million in federal funds since 1995, CVI relied on federal earmarks for 97% of its funding through April 2006. CVI was housed in the office building of a fourth Mollohan-created non-profit, Vandalia Heritage Foundation. CVI’s $5,100 monthly rent, paid to Vandalia, was covered by earmarks from the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.”

Mollohan continues to maintain his connection to CVI through earmarks. CVI received $3,670,000 from the Interior Department‘s Fiscal Year 2009 Appropriations Bill for the Potomac River Watershed South Branch Project in Hampshire County. CVI was also a partner in the Friends of Cheat Rails-to-Trails Program in Kingwood, W.Va., which received $294,000 from the Dept. of Transportation and Housing & Urban Development‘s Fiscal Year 2008 Appropriations Bill.

West Virginia Watchdog has already chronicled the more recent earmarks Mollohan has given to projects being worked on by Vandalia. Looking back at the appropriations bills for fiscal years 2009 and 2008 have revealed more. In fiscal year 2009 Vandalia received $142,500 for renovations and improvements to the New Deal Homestead preservation project in Arthurdale, W.Va. Arthurdale was a community created by President Franklin Roosevelt to help people suffering during the Great Depression.

$196,000 was earmarked in fiscal year 2008 for the Cottrill’s Opera House Project in Thomas, W.Va. Vandalia is a client on the project along with Alpine Heritage Preservation, Inc. Mollohan recently earmarked $150,000 for the Cottrill’s Opera House in the Fiscal Year 2010 Interior Appropriations Bill.

Including 2010 earmarks for a new Army National Guard Armory/Civic Center for Parkersburg, W.Va. this brings the total of earmarks going towards Vandalia projects to $3,689,500 in three years. Employees and family members connected to Vandalia have given nearly $10,000 to Mollohan in the form of campaign donations over the last two elections cycles. Vandalia President Laura Kuhns is a former Mollohan staff member and a co-investor in beach real estate with Mollohan on Bald Head Island, N.C. The Washington Examiner recently reported that a house on Bald Head Island owned by both Mollohan and Kuhns is in foreclosure (Read here).

Mollohan has also steered earmarks to a company whose executives donate to his campaign. Azimuth Inc., of Fairmont, W.Va., is a software developer with contracts with government agencies, including the Department of Defense. In the Fiscal Year 2009 Defense Appropriations Bill Mollohan earmarked $2,880,000 for Azimuth’s Craft Integrated Electronic Suite and $1,200,000 for their Integrated Bridge System. In Fiscal Year 2008 Azimuth received $2,400,000 for the Craft Integrated Electronic Suite. Both systems are designed for use on U.S. Navy ships.

Azimuth employees are huge donors to Mollohan. Over the last three election cycles, starting from 2004 to 2008, Mollohan received $41,100 from Azimuth employees. In 2004 Azimith helped underwrite Mollohan’s five-day trip to Bilboa, Spain. This trip was financed by several defense contractors and non-profits to the tune of $36,000.

Mollohan’s grand total for earmarks since fiscal year 2008 total almost $89 million.

Read more of West Virginia Watchdog’s Mollohan investigations:

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