This one's personal. I've been NOT represented in Congress for 23 years by a Congressman you've probably never heard of: Elton Gallegly (R-CA). He rarely speaks on the House floor, serves on a couple of committees but doesn't do much, and his single legislative achievement was overturned by the Supreme Court because it overreached.
However, it appears that if one is a business owner in Simi Valley who donates to Gallegly's campaign, a bonanza in the form of earmarks might appear. Here's the story.
Microwave Monolithics is a privately-held company in Simi Valley, Gallegly's home town. Daniel Ch'en is the CEO. Daniel Ch'en (aka Daniel Chen) has donated more than $16,000 to Gallegly. In 2008, Ch'en was rewarded with a $1.2 million dollar contract for their "Global Personal Recovery System Single Card Solution". According to Microwave Monolithics' site, this item does the following:
GPRS is a joint Civil/DoD initiative to develop and deploy the first global, near real-time two-way communications and tracking system capable of fully supporting Joint Blue Force Situation Awareness (JBFSA) and Personnel Recovery (PR) / Search-And-Rescue (SAR) operations among many other world-wide applications. It is seamlessly interoperable across agencies, with two dozen separate government agencies already involved (including our allies in the United Kingdom), and enables the emergency communications desperately needed today by disadvantaged isolated personnel such as downed pilots, dismounted soldiers, and other personnel often in hostile and/or dangerous situations on remote parts of the earth.
Basically, it's a beacon. While I certainly want whatever tools are available to rescue service members downed or stranded in enemy territory, I question the allocation of this particular earmark to this contributor by this Congressman under what appears to be a no-bid process with no accompanying request from the military that I could find. Further, this company was one of the largest Gallegly donors in the defense sector. EDO Corp was the largest contributor, and they make...you guessed it...GPS systems, among other things. Accompanying the $1.2 million earmark to Microwave Monolithics? A $2 million earmark for Point Mugu Air Station to upgrade their electronic warfare laboratory.
Connect the dots.
Here is a Congressman who does nothing for most of the constituents in his district, maybe nothing for much of anyone except one consistent donor to his campaigns. During the health care debate he refused to meet with constituents or even directly respond to questions, and now he's rumbling about joining the Tea Party caucus. This, despite the fact that this district has turned a solid purple and went for Obama by a wide margin in 2008.
No on health care reform. No on financial reform. No on the stimulus, despite taking credit at ribbon-cutting ceremonies for stimulus projects. But for one donor, $1.2 million in one big, giant government buy.
When you follow the money, it leads to dark, ugly, smelly places. And sometimes, it leads to a request for an ethics investigation. Bring it.
(Note: Legistorm aggregates the award to Microwave Monolithics with an earmark for NAWCWD Pt. Mugu. I could find nothing on their website showing an award to Microwave Monolithics, but it appears as though the Mugu/MM awards were related.)