WASHINGTON-- In a television interview with WCPO Cincinnati, Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) directly contradicted an Associated Press report that said he had sought stimulus funds for his congressional district, while at the same time publicly decrying the bill as a "wasteful spending spree."
"No, I never asked for stimulus," Ryan said when questioned on reports that he had sought funds.
Ryan's statement directly counters the evidence of four letters obtained by the AP which the congressman wrote to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, praising energy programs supported by the stimulus and requesting funds for initiatives in his district.
Ryan's private praise for Department of Energy programs and his written requests for stimulus funds contradict not only his public criticism of the 2009 stimulus bill, but also many of the budget priorities he has laid out, including cuts to investments in green technologies.
The Boston Globe reported that in 2010, after writing several letters to federal departments requesting stimulus funds for his district, Ryan told a caller on Boston talk radio show WBZ Nightside with Dan Rea that he would never vote against the stimulus bill and "then write to the government to ask them to send us money."
Ryan went on to state that he "did not request any stimulus money."
Raising further questions about the vice presidential candidate's claim today that he never sought stimulus money, Ryan spokesman Brendan Buck referred AP to previous explanations by the congressman's office that by requesting funds Ryan was simply "providing a legitimate constituent service."
"If Congressman Ryan is asked to help a Wisconsin entity applying for existing federal grant funds, he does not believe flawed policy should get in the way of doing his job," Ryan's office said when first asked about the funding requests by the Wall Street Journal in 2010.
UPDATE: 11:59 p.m. --
Ryan responded Thursday night with a statement that said the letters "should have been handled differently."
"After having these letters called to my attention I checked into them, and they were treated as constituent service requests in the same way matters involving Social Security or Veterans Affairs are handled," Ryan said in the statement.
"This is why I didn't recall the letters earlier," he added. "But they should have been handled differently, and I take responsibility for that. Regardless, it's clear that the Obama stimulus did nothing to stimulate the economy, and now the president is asking to do it all over again."