July 11, 2012

Congressman Schock Violated Earmark Ban With Tariffs Exemption Requests To His Campaign Contributors

Congressman Schock Violated Earmark Ban With Tariffs Exemption Requests To His Campaign Contributors On March 19 at Finish Line Ford in Peoria, Illinois, Representative Aaron Schock (R-IL) hosted a big fundraiser with Mitt Romney.  Tickets cost $250 or $500 per person, or $5,000 for a table of 10 and a guarantee of a photograph with Schock and Romney.  At least 8 employees of Caterpillar inc., according to FEC filings, were in attendance.  Four gave the minimum of $250 just before the event, another two gave $500 to the campaign, and two others gave $1,000 in March preceding the event.  Just one month after the fundraiser, Schock proposed 10 tariff reductions that benefitted only three companies: one of them Caterpillar Inc., and all of them big donors to his campaign.

Despite Congressional leadership’s promises to rescind, “earmark[s], limited tax benefit[s] or limited tariff benefit[s],” these special-interest giveaways persist.Tariff reductions are equivalent to earmarks as far as the companies receiving them are concerned.  They are no-bid benefits that often target only one specific company.  Schock, as well as other Members of Congress, use these tariff reductions as kickbacks to benefit their big donors.Every one of Schock’s 10 tariff reductions benefited three of his big donors: DuPontFMC, and Caterpillar inc.  In 2012 alone, DuPont donated to Schock $6,000, FMC $2,500, and Caterpillar inc. $25,200 through high-level employees, PACs, and lobbyists representing these firms.

The tariff exemptions are as particularly targeted as Hr 4610, 4611, and 4612, which suspend the duty on, “2-methyl-4-methoxy-6-methylamino-1,3,5-triazine,” as well as, “2-amino-4-methoxy-6-methyl-1,3,5-triazine,” and,  “3-(ethylsulfonyl)-2-pyridinesulfonamide,” respectively. All three of these solely benefited DuPont.HR 4613, 4614, 4615, and 4616 all reduced specific chemical tariffs for the pesticide and chemical production company, FMC.Caterpillar Inc. received three tariff reductions in HR 4617 4618 and 4619.  These went to specific reductions on machine parts such as “certain used compression-ignition internal combustion piston engines.”The only distinction between these tariffs and earmarks is a short clause in the disclosure form that states these reductions will “benefit upstream and downstream producers, manufacturers, purchasers, and consumers.”  But counter to this assertion, there are actually several American producers of the chemicals for which DuPont was granted exceptions.  These American producers, with lower foreign tariffs, are in a worse competitive position compared to producers in China and other countries.