Huffpost Politics

Congressman Norm Dicks, University Of Washington Deny Earmark Abuse

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A $6.2 million federal spending request by U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks is intended solely for the University of Washington - and no money will be shared with business partner Intellicheck Mobilisa, a university spokesman said.

Norm Arkans, the university's associate vice president for media relations, denied it would share earmark dollars with Intellicheck - even though Dicks' description of the earmark is almost identical to one he sought for Intellicheck last year.

"This is our project," said Arkans. "There is no role in this project for Mobilisa."

The university's statement contradicts a July 5 Huffington Post Investigative Fund report that Dicks had sought an earmark for the University of Washington that ultimately would financially benefit Intellicheck Mobilisa and in apparent contradiction of Dicks' pledge to restrict earmark requests benefiting for-profit businesses.

"The notion there's a pass-through of funds is erroneous," said Arkans. "We don't do that."

Through a spokesman, Dicks has denied seeking a way around the restrictions. "Intellicheck Mobilisa will not receive any of this funding," said Dicks spokesman George Behan. "There is no subterfuge. There is no intent to get around any rules."

Intellicheck has not responded to requests for comment by the Investigative Fund. On July 11, The Peninsula Daily News, a publication on Washington's Olympic peninsula, where Intellicheck is headquartered, quoted the company's chief executive, Nelson Ludlow, as denying the company would benefit from the earmark. "That is an absolute fabrication. UW is the beneficiary, not us," the newspaper quoted the CEO as saying.

Since 2004, Dicks has sponsored more than $20 million in earmarks for the company. Last year, Dicks named the company as the intended recipient of an earmark request that matches, almost word for word, the description of this year's request by Dicks to direct federal dollars to the University of Washington. The earmark involves a network of buoys on Puget Sound with a range of capabilities, from monitoring environmental conditions to detecting biological or radiological hazards.

Dicks was among House Democratic leaders who pledged in March to limit earmarks to nonprofits such as universities and charitable organizations. Since that announcement, some members - including members of the appropriations committee - have named non-profits as requested earmark recipients for projects that appear to also involve for-profit businesses. Both the Investigative Fund and The New York Times have identified more than a dozen such instances.

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