Bonnie & Clyde


Bonnie & Clyde are back – no guns required. In their new form, the robbers use pen and ink, and they do their deeds in the dark of night.

The amount of taxpayer money being funneled to a Dorchester shrine to the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy has ballooned to $38 million and could rise to at least $68 million this year, infuriating watchdog groups who insist the project should be privately funded.

The bad guys in this caper are actually Johnny and Eddie… names that don’t role off the tongue in a manner that promises a feature film in their future. But don’t let the lack of artistry in their names lead you to believe that their crimes are uninspired.

With $38.3 million in federal earmarks already secured for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, Sen. John F. Kerry and Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Malden) have in recent days tapped the government for $30 million more in the next budget.

What good is an endless career in Congress if you can’t finagle some funds to pay tribute to someone who did so much more damage than you could ever dream of doing?

The new taxpayer-funded total would cover the full $60 million estimated cost of building the project, adjacent to John F. Kennedy Presidential Library at Columbia Point. And it would put the public on the hook for nearly half the project’s $150 million target.

And oh how the sleazy ones go about spending our money. It’s a little here, a little there, slipped into unrelated spending bills. Secret, in the middle of the night, earmarks. Defense bills here, education legislation there.

The project has gotten $38.3 million in federal earmarks in less than two years, according to data compiled by LegiStorm, a nonpartisan group that tracks congressional spending information.

That figure includes $5.81 million that Kerry and five other senators backed in the fiscal 2009 education budget. Two federal spending bills passed in December, one for defense and the other for education, included another $32.5 million for the institute. Kerry and Markey were among the members of Congress who requested those funds.

You might be surprised to see that John Kerry, long the junior senator to the massive Kennedy legacy, is manipulating the dirty dealing needed to gain funding for the project. But Kerry is smart enough to know that history will judge him by how spinelessly he “pays” tribute to Camelot. Using our money, of course.

Kerry requested an additional $10 million late last week, his spokeswoman, Brigid O’Rourke, said in an e-mail Friday afternoon.

Late in the week is when they do their ugliest work, and Friday afternoon is where the Beltway Boys bury, like Cardinal Law to the Vatican, bad news. In a down economy, when voter anger toward squandered assets is at a fever pitch, it’s not clever politics for the elite to be pouring our money into self-aggrandizement – even the most brazen thieves use caution. Kerry brought in help – little Eddie Markey of Malden.

Markey made his most recent requests on March 20, according to two letters he wrote to the chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations. The first $10 million would come from the defense appropriations bill, the second $10 million from the spending bill for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education, a Markey spokesman confirmed in an e-mail.

Eddie offered some amusing Brave New World lingo to impress the huddled masses.

Markey’s letters say the money “would be used for program development” and in support of “the primary goal” of the institute – “to improve civics education and engagement in this country.”

Improving education and engagement? How does Teddy do dead what he couldn’t do alive? So, what exactly will they be doing with our money at Columbia Point?

In many cases, initial funding pays for architectural planning or research, David Williams of Citizens Against Government Waste said. “They get it started and hope it gets far enough down the road that they can’t stop the funding,” he said.

Oh, we get that. Remember the Big Dig? Kerry and Kennedy got us those funds, too!

Submitting a request as large as those sought for the Kennedy Institute doesn’t mean a member of Congress will get the full amount. However, Steve Ellis, a vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, suggested it is more likely to be filled than other requests, because it “pulls at the heartstrings because it’s for the late senator.”

Why do they go to Congress? That’s where the money is.

One Response to “Bonnie & Clyde”

  1. 1 ann leonard

    Regarding the Kennedy Institute…

    I thought students were taught about the Senate and the various branches and workings of the U.S. government

    IN SCHOOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

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