During Thursday night's vice presidential debate, Vice President Joe Biden attacked Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) for criticizing the president's stimulus act despite having sent two separate requests for stimulus funds for his district.
Biden was wrong. Ryan sent at least four requests.
A Freedom of Information Act request for correspondence between Ryan's office and the Environmental Protection Agency, filed by The Huffington Post, unearthed two additional instances in which the Wisconsin Republican petitioned for American Recovery Act funds. In addition, there were many other occasions in which the GOP vice presidential nominee asked the EPA for grant money for projects in Wisconsin's 1st District, which encompasses Ryan's hometown of Janesville and has a slight Democratic lean. Combined, the letters muddy Ryan's claim that the stimulus wasn't helpful and that government spending, more broadly, doesn't assist small businesses.
The letters, Ryan's spokesman Brendan Buck said, were sent as part of the congressman's basic responsibility to advocate on behalf of his district. "Part of being a congressman is vouching for constituents and helping them navigate the federal bureaucracy when asked," he said.
But the letters' language reveals a congressman who was involved in reviewing the applications and determining that taxpayer money could be useful economically. Moreover, the direct petitioning of the EPA could prove awkward for the Republican ticket, owing to the insistence among many in the GOP that the agency is a hindrance and should be eliminated.
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