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A very expensive tow truck and fence

The Petoskey News Review reports:

U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Menominee, is denying swelling accusations that he accepted a kickback in the form of $726,409 Federal Aviation Administration utility grants to shift his vote to support health care reform on Sunday.

The congressman has found himself in the middle of a vicious Republican backlash after accepting that an executive order from the president would be sufficient to prevent federal dollars from funding abortions under the Senate heath care reform bill.

Stupak called the allegations “grasping at straws” by conservative opponents.

“It is absurd to think I would change my vote for a tow truck and a fence to keep deer from walking onto the runway of an airport in Escanaba,” Stupak said. “I have long advocated for comprehensive health care reform and voted in favor of the House health care reform bill — a fact that many opponents of health care reform can’t seem to acknowledge.”

The grants were for a $179,209 for Delta County Airport in Escanaba to install a 10 foot fence, a $85,500 for Alpena Regional Airport to acquire friction measuring equipment and $461,700 to install lighted signs on the runway at Chippewa County International Airport near Sault Ste. Marie.  The grants were officially announced Friday, two days before Stupak decided to alter his vote.

I’m glad to know Bart Stupak is a man of principle. He wouldn’t sell his vote for a tow truck and a fence. But how about for $726,409 worth of benefits for his constituents? And the timing of the announcement was just a coincidence.