MADISON, Wis. - Our "We the People Fact Finder" reports continue with a look at a widely discussed attack ad Scott Walker is running against Mark Neumann. The candidates are facing off for the Republican gubernatorial primary.
Walker is trying to cast doubt on Neumann's budget hawk persona by citing one vote during his congressional tenure.
"In 1998, Congressman Neumann voted for one of the largest transportation bills in history, a bill that contained $9 billion in pork barrel spending," the ad says.
WISC-TV's analysis found that Neumann did vote for the bill, and that it was loaded with earmarks. Neumann has said he voted for the bill because it contained a provision that guaranteed gas tax money would be spent on roads.
The ad accurately asserts the bill included Alaska's "bridge to nowhere" funding, as well as for a road in Canada.
According to our "We the People" partners at Wisconsin Public Television, the Canadian road money included a $19 million agreement between the United States and Canadian governments to pave the only road connecting upper Alaska to it's capital. Canada contributed 75 percent of the cost for the road, which carries U.S. traffic 80 percent of the time.
"You know who else voted for that $9 billion in pork barrel spending? Uh, huh, Nancy Pelosi," the add goes on to say.
WISC-TV's analysis found this needs clarification. About half of Wisconsin's congressional delegation and the overwhelming majority of Congress also voted in favor of the transportation bill. That includes U.S. Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wis., who has endorsed Walker. The state's four Republican and five Democratic congressional representatives split on the bill. Another notable vote against the bill was from then-U.S. Rep. Tom Barrett, Walker's would-be opponent in the general gubernatorial election.
Walker has said he did like a provision of the bill that allowed federal money to be used on roads instead of public transit projects in Milwaukee, an issue that may have convinced many of the Wisconsin lawmakers to vote for it as well.
According to news reports at the time, Petri inserted this provision, which was widely supported by Republicans, including then-state legislator Walker, who sent a letter supporting the provision to the governor. Some Democrats, including Barrett, blasted Petri's provision as a "back-room move preventing public debate."
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