Indiana Congressman Joe Donnelly [D-IN2] is calling out his 2nd District challenger for flip-flopping on the issue of stimulus funds for Indiana. Donnelly claims Republican congressional candidate, Jackie Walorski, petitioned his office for $15 million in stimulus funding during her recent term as an Indiana State Representative. One such request was sent to Donnelly's office the same week the House voted on the Recovery package.
Walorski has made government spending a focal point of her campaign for Indiana's 2nd District, criticizing Donnelly, a Democrat, for supporting the $800 billion stimulus package.
But Donnelly says that two letters sent to his office show Ms. Walorski was in favor of the Recovery Act before she was against it. He told the South Bend Tribune:
"I voted for the stimulus package in accordance with the wishes of my opponent," Donnelly said. "At the time, apparently, she was for it. Now that she feels it's politically advantageous for her, she's now against it."
The Huffington Post acquired a letter Walorski sent to Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) asking for help to secure $15 million to assist northern Indiana RV companies. In the letter, dated Dec. 1, 2008, Walorski argues the money would be used to help local RV companies retrofit, redesign and downsize their current lines. She also suggests the funds could be used to develop different types of alternative energy in their units. Walorski went even further, asking Gov. Daniels to discuss the issue during a meeting with then President Elect Obama, writing...
"I realize you are meeting with President Elect Obama soon and will be further discussing the needs of our State. I am hopeful that we can work together with all of the parties involved to bring in any additional relief for the RV Industry and avoid the loss of any more jobs. I am confident that your leadership on this issue will make this a reality."
Another letter was sent to Donnelly's Washington D.C. office dated February 9, 2009, just four days before the House voted on the Recovery Act. In it, Walorski wrote,
"Most of these companies are using cutting edge technology, and even more importantly, with a small amount of investment, will absolutely produce jobs in Elkhart County.
I hope you will be able to use this list to justify spending Federal Stimulus money in Elkhart County and even surrounding counties in order to jump start "renewable energy" jobs."
The Walorski campaign didn't respond to calls requesting an official comment, but Ms. Walorski told the South Bend Tribune she only lobbied for the money because, as a state representative, it's her job to fight for the best interests of her district when federal funds are available.
"If there's money coming into the state, it's my job to direct that funding -- especially when so many jobs are on the line," Walorski said. "If you're an elected official, you're going to drive whatever portion you can into your district. I fought for it tooth and nail because that's what I was elected to do."
The $15 million for the RV industry never made it into the Recovery Act, but Congressman Donnelly and Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) worked together to ensure that $1,100 sales tax deduction for the purchase of an RV was included in the final bill.
The Donnelly campaign claims Walorski has already tried to take credit for bringing stimulus dollars to the district. She attended an unveiling (photo) for a new Navistar electric delivery truck this May in Wakarusa, Indiana. Navistar received $39.2 million from the Recovery Act to develop and deploy 400 of these advanced battery electric delivery trucks.