Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has given more than 50 requests for government cash her stamp of approval.
Giffords (D-Ariz.) has posted on her congressional Web site the requests for federal appropriations, also known as earmarks, that she plans to advocate for during the federal appropriations process. The 53 requests total more than $73 million.
Local governments, school districts, universities and non-profit organizations are some of the organizations poised to benefit from Giffords' advocacy.
"In choosing the projects for which she is requesting funding, the congresswoman was extremely selective," Giffords spokesman C.J. Karamargin said in an e-mailed statement. "Fewer than half of the requests that were sent to her were actually submitted, and each project that made the cut had to undergo a rigorous vetting process."
As part of the application process, Giffords required petitioners for federal cash to provide letters of support for their prospective projects and demonstrate how they would support the community.
Defense industry-related funding make up a sizable portion of the projects the congresswoman plans to work for, totaling some $24.5 million.
The University of Arizona has $1.1 million in funding requests, not counting a $7 million request for aid to build a wind tunnel for supersonic testing of missile parts included in defense-related requests. The larger figure was listed among of the congresswoman's defense spending requests.
The Town of Oro Valley was among the ranks of requesters that lobbied the congresswoman for federal assistance, asking for help with the ongoing historic restoration at Steam Pump Ranch. Giffords agreed to advocate for $750,000 for the project. Oro Valley officials have estimated the entire historic restoration project would cost more than $8 million.
The Town of Marana is asking for $1 million toward the Tangerine Road-Interstate 10 interchange project. The total project cost is estimated at $81.2 million.
The Marana Health Center requested a $200,000 appropriation for a telepharmacy facility.
The congresswoman also agreed to push for $525,000 for the Pima County Sheriff's Department. The funds would go toward the $105 million Pima County Wireless Integrated Network communications system. Another $350,000 for PCWIN would go to the Tucson Police Department.
The Joint Special Operations Command Parachute Training and Testing facility at the Pinal Air Park could receive a $6.2 million earmark.
Giffords posted the requests on her congressional Web site, including the letters in support of each requests.
Karamargin pointed out the congresswoman was a sponsor of the Clean Law for Earmark Accountability Reform, or CLEAR Act, which sought to ban lawmakers from taking campaign contributions from companies or lobbyists on whose behalf they have requested earmarks.
While the law languished in the U.S. House, a second iteration of the proposal supported by Giffords was introduced earlier this year.
The requests Giffords has committed to advocate for have not yet been added to any spending bills.
OV leaders go to D.C., ask for help with Steam Pump
A contingent of Oro Valley officials recently returned from a sojourn to the nation's capital, attending a national conference and attempting to secure federal tax dollars for a local historic preservation project.
The group, including Councilman Barry Gillaspie, Councilwoman Pat Spoerl and interim Town Manager Jerene Watson, traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend a National League of Cities conference and to lobby congressional representatives for federal assistance in the ongoing Steam Pump Ranch Restoration.
Early indications on the lobbying front appear positive, according to Watson. The town manager said Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords indicated she would push for a $750,000 earmark for Steam Pump Ranch in an upcoming appropriations bill.
"We will be grateful for whatever we get," Watson said.
The town had requested $1 million from the federal government in an appropriations request to Giffords.
Watson said the Oro Valley delegation also visited the Congressional offices of fellow Arizona Democrats Raul Grijalva and Ed Pastor.
If approved, the cash would fund restoration efforts at the town-owned historic property located near Oracle Road and First Avenue.
A 2008 study of the property laid out a three-phase restoration plan, with the ultimate goal of gaining recognition on the National Registry of Historic Places and making the site a popular tourist destination.
Late last year, the town reached the first goal. The second remains a work in progress. A major hurdle to restoration remains money.
The 2008 study, for which Oro Valley paid architectural firm Poster Frost $250,000, estimated the total cost of the three-phase renovation would top $8 million.
The town purchased the property for $3 million in 2007 from descendants of the Pusch family who homesteaded the area in the 1870s.
Watson said the listing on the National Registry would likely help the town's chances of getting federal money to conduct the restoration work.
Another potential advantage the town holds is that it doesn't have a professional lobbyist working on its behalf. More than a year ago, the town council decided not to hire a professional lobbyist because of the anticipated costs. When the town council was wrestling with the idea of hiring a lobbyist in December 2008, former Town Manager David Andrews estimated that it would cost the town as much as $150,000 per year.
Watson said new federal regulations give municipalities that don't hire lobbyists preference when it comes to earmarks.
Watson said the town wouldn't know until later this year if the earmark request goes through.
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