WASHINGTON -- In late September 2011, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's office notified Rep. Paul Ryan's office with some good news. The U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs had awarded a grant to a Wisconsin veteran's home to help renovate its water distribution system. Walker's office just needed Ryan's people to sign off on the press release. But what started out as a routine matter quickly turned into a minor panic among aides to the two Republicans.

Wendy Riemann, Walker's director of federal relations, sent an email to Ryan's communications director, Kevin Seifert, asking for a quote from the congressman.

"Not sure if you're doing your own release, etc.," Riemann emailed on Sept. 26. "Let me know -- we'll wait to hear from you either way before putting it out."

Seifert replied with a simple message: Stop the presses. He had one concern. Could the grant be tied to federal stimulus funds?

"Not to create more work for you all but -- do you have any idea where the money for this grant came from? Was it from the stimulus/the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act?" Seifert wrote. "Our concern is that if it's stimulus funds, we won't want to highlight (and would think you guys wouldn't either)."

Seifert did not want Ryan appearing to support President Barack Obama. "The Administration is encouraging lots of agencies to spend un-spent stimulus funds and we generally won't do press on things we actively oppose," the congressman's communications director concluded.

The emails were obtained by The Huffington Post through a public records request with Walker's office. The email exchange underscored a routine problem facing Republicans in the House of Representatives at the time. Having opposed the president's stimulus bill publicly, many (including some of the foremost conservatives) privately concluded that the legislation did some good in their districts. But rather than back off their opposition, or risk charges of hypocrisy -- even for something as mundane and worthy as a veteran's home water system upgrade -- they did what they could to secure money without public notice.

Seifert's worry in September 2011 was prescient.

During the recent vice presidential debate, Vice President Joe Biden chided Ryan for asking for stimulus funds. Ryan had sought stimulus funds for four projects, including two involving Environmental Protection Agency funds.

The congressman routinely sought grant money for projects in Wisconsin's 1st Congressional District, which encompasses his hometown of Janesville. He sought EPA grant money for environmental studies of potentially hazardous industrial lands, and for clean diesel fuel assistance for a school association.

Ryan's spokesman Brendan Buck told HuffPost several weeks ago that the requests amounted to basic constituent services. "Part of being a congressman is vouching for constituents and helping them navigate the federal bureaucracy when asked," Buck said.

Ryan received a $735,000 earmark to construct a bus transit center in Janesville while slamming the practice. In 2008, he sought a moratorium on earmark spending.

The next day, after researching the veteran's home grant, Riemann, in Walker's office, emailed Seifert, Ryan's communications director, with what she discovered. The grant came from federal funds from an annual appropriation -- not the stimulus bill. But there was one potential caveat. "My Google shows there was an audit for this work with recovery funds ... but it also looks like this grant program has been around for awhile," she wrote.

Too risky, Seifert suggested. "Feel free to proceed without us on this one," he said. "Thanks for checking."

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Where Have You Been (Rihanna)

    US Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (L) shakes hands with his running mate Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan in front of the campaign bus prior to each boarding their own campaign airplanes at General Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, August 12, 2012. (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Happy Together (The Turtles)

    WAUKESHA, WI - AUGUST 12: Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and vice presidential candidate and Wisconsin native Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) (L) greet supporters during a campaign event at the Waukesha Expo Center on August 12, 2012 in Waukesha, Wisconsin. (Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)

  • Right By My Side (Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown)

    Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, left, listens to his vice presidential running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan R-Wis., as they campaign Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in High Point, N.C. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

  • Only Wanna Be With You (Hootie & The Blowfish)

    WAUKESHA, WI - AUGUST 12: Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and vice presidential candidate and Wisconsin native Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) (L) hug after speaking at a campaign event at the Waukesha Expo Center on August 12, 2012 in Waukesha, Wisconsin. (Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)

  • I Cry (Flo Rida)

    WAUKESHA, WI - AUGUST 12: Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R) looks on as his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) wipes away tears during a homecoming campaign rally at the Waukesha County Expo Center on August 12, 2012 in Waukesha, Wisconsin. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

  • You're My Best Friend (Queen)

    Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, left and running mate Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., talk in the campaign bus before an event at the Waukesha county expo center, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012 in Waukesha, Wis. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

  • Wouldn't It Be Nice (The Beach Boys)

    WAUKESHA, WI - AUGUST 12: Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and vice presidential candidate and Wisconsin native Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) (L) greet supporters during a campaign event at the Waukesha Expo Center on August 12, 2012 in Waukesha, Wisconsin. (Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)

  • I'll Stand By You (The Pretenders)

    Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, right, and his newly announced vice presidential running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., left, greet supporters, during a campaign rally in Manassas, Va., Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

  • Two Tickets To Paradise (Eddie Money)

    Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, right, and vice presidential running mate Rep. Paul Ryan R-Wis. are joined by Ronmey's granddaughter Chloe while talking to reporters on the charter flight between Virginia and North Carolina, Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

  • We Found Love (Rihanna)

    WAUKESHA, WI - AUGUST 12: Republican vice presidential candidate and Wisconsin native Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) (L) wipes away tears as he and presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney greet supporters during a campaign event at the Waukesha Expo Center on August 12, 2012 in Waukesha, Wisconsin. (Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)