By Adam Andrzejewski for RealClearPolicy
Included in the $1.7 trillion omnibus package supported by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) was a provision to give $200 million to the Appalachian Regional Commission, an agency headed by Manchin’s wife, Gayle.
The Appalachian Regional Commission operates as an economic development partnership between the federal government and 13 Appalachian states, distributing infrastructure grants in those states.
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Its head, Gayle Manchin, makes $160,000 in her role as its federal co-chair, according to a Fox News report. She was confirmed by the Senate in 2021.
The $200 million in funding is a $5 million increase from last year.
“The West Virginia senator previously helped craft earlier legislation, following his wife’s 2021 appointment, that allocated $1 billion in funding over five years for the ARC,” Fox reported. Sen. Manchin was a key Democratic negotiator of the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which doubled the commission’s funding level.
Gayle Manchin defended the spending increase in 2021, claiming this funding is necessary to, “more adequately meet the overwhelming needs of communities impacted by job losses resulting from the decline in the coal industry. These grants will be instrumental to the long-term diversification and economic growth in Appalachia.”
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This isn’t the only instance of federal money being sent to a family member in the omnibus bill. Rep. Jim Cooper sent $2.7 million to Metro Nashville, where his brother John Cooper is mayor. Sen. Ben Ray Lujan secured $152 million for his home state of New Mexico, where Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is a distant relative.
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Funneling money to an agency headed by a spouse isn’t illegal, but it does present a clear conflict of interest that erodes trust between people and their governments.
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Syndicated with permission from RealClearWire.
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