GOP candidate critical of stimulus funds garners federal funds through business contracts
BY SEAN MURPHY Associated Press
Thursday, September 06, 2012
9/06/12 at 8:26 AM
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OKLAHOMA CITY - A Republican congressional candidate who argues that the federal government should rein in spending was awarded about $370,000 in federal stimulus money distributed through a pair of Oklahoma Indian tribes, records show.
Companies owned by Markwayne Mullin, the GOP nominee for a U.S. House seat in eastern Oklahoma, received the money under contracts with the Cherokee and Muscogee (Creek) nations, according to documents posted on a government website created to track recovery funds.
Records show that some of the awards were made after Mullin entered the race to succeed Second Congressional District Rep. Dan Boren, a Democrat who announced his retirement last year.
Mullin declined to answer questions Wednesday about the contracts. His campaign released a statement in which Mullin criticized the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 as a "horrible waste of tax dollars" but defended his company's acceptance of federal dollars.
"Mullin Plumbing is a plumbing business. When someone hires us to do a job, we don't ask them where the money comes from," the statement said. "Plumbing is plumbing. These projects were Cherokee Nation projects, and our contract was with the Cherokee Nation. We just performed the services we were hired to do and moved on to the next job, like always."
But Mullin's opponent in November's election, Democrat Rob Wallace, said Mullin was trying to have it both ways.
"To take as strong a stand against what he calls wasteful government spending as he has taken, and then to be taking stimulus funds for his business doesn't actually seem to be consistent with one another," Wallace said. "It does seem to be hypocritical."
Since he hit the campaign trail last year, Mullin, 35, has been a fierce and unyielding critic of federal spending and what he describes as an increasing role of the federal government in the lives of everyday Americans.
Records show Mullin Plumbing of Broken Arrow had five separate contracts totaling $335,000 for plumbing work awarded by the Cherokee Nation on two separate projects to construct affordable housing in eastern Oklahoma.
According to data posted online at www.recovery.gov, Mullin Plumbing was awarded $83,000 as part of a $5 million project to construct energy efficient, affordable homes in Sequoyah and Adair counties in northeastern Oklahoma. The company also was awarded four separate contracts totaling about $251,000 as part of a separate, $12 million Cherokee Nation project to modernize low-income rental apartments and privately owned homes for tribal members.
A Mullin Plumbing subsidiary, Mullin Pumping, also was awarded a $34,700 contract on a separate $5.6 million housing project by the Creek Nation.
All of the projects were funded by federal stimulus money administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The projects are all completed, and all of the vendors have been paid, said Edward Pound, a spokesman for the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board.
Although the federal agency provided some accounting on the projects, the individual tribes were responsible for soliciting bids and awarding contracts to vendors, Pound said.
The Cherokee Nation has contributed $2,500 to Wallace, according to records from the Federal Election Commission.
Mullin captured 57 percent of the vote in last week's GOP primary runoff over three-term state Rep. George Faught of Muskogee.
Original Print Headline: Contracts bring fed money to candidate
Markwayne Mullin: Companies owned by Mullin, the GOP nominee for a U.S. House seat, received federal stimulus money under contracts with Oklahoma Indian tribes