Congressman Abercrombie Bragged About Bringing Home the Bacon…But, Did You Ever See Any?

Ask not for whom the pork rolls, it rolls not for thee.

Neil Abercrombie’s re-election pitch often revolved around his ability to bring home federal money.  His premature retirement from Congress will, of course,  erase all the seniority that has accrued to Hawaii  over the past twenty years.  Our new Congressman or woman, therefore,  will start at the bottom of the totem pole.

But, the real question is how effective was Neil with all that seniority Hawaii’s voters gave  him?  He often bragged about his ability to secure federal dollars with his “earmarks” and his senior positions on key defense committees, but what did this mean for you?  Apparently not much.  He produced major funding for his defense contractor friends, but littlle if any of that money made it to the average Hawaii citizen.  His military industrial connections responded in kind becoming among Abercrombie’s largest political campaign contributors.

BAE, among Neil’s largest contributors, got earmarks and government contracts.  Lockheed Martin, another regular donor got a contract for jet engines nobody else seemed to want.  Even Hawaii Biodiesel, a local large contributor whose president is an “honorary” campaign chairwoman for Neil, got a $3.5 million “earmark.”  The list goes on and on and their reciprocation to Neil’s political war chest was standard procedure.

So, again, what did you get from the 2009 contender for CAGW “Porker of the Year,” Congessman Neil Abercrombie?

According to Cliff Slater, long time student of Abercrombie’s record, you pretty much got screwed. One of his is regular “Second Opinion” op ed columns laid it out vividly:

“Our delegation rightly points out that Hawaii is sixth in the nation as a recipient of federal spending on a per capita basis.”

“Quite simply, the military’s defense requirements dictate high spending in Hawaii and Guam…”

“The real test of an elected official’s ability to deliver ‘pork’ is in non-defense spending—social welfare, transportation, highways, education and non-defense procurement. For this, we rank a lowly 37th among the states on a per capita basis. Some pork. We rank so low that what our Congressional delegation brings home is not real pork but luncheon meat—a pastiche of the more unmentionable leftovers of the pig after the choice cuts are taken.”


Neil took credit for a lavish feast, but all you got was a rusty can of spam.

Roaming Gnome Runs Afoul of House Ethics Rules

Neil's lobbyist funded travel comes back to haunt him.

In 2005, Neil Abercrombie was part of the zealous Democrat attack on Republican Majority Leader Tom Delay that rebounded into an potential ethics investigation of the Democrats own travel excesses.  Neil was then among those furiously amending his own records to avoid being hoisted on his own petard.

The following narrative (source material provided below) tells a sordid tale of unethical travel perks provided by lobbyists, big league butt covering and glaringly inconsistent cover stories.

House Armed Services Committee member Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) took a two-day trip to Boston in June 2001 that was paid for by a lobbying firm with business before the committee, according to House travel records. (1)

In an apparent violation of House ethics rules, the $1,782 tab for the trip was picked up by the Rooney Group International, an Arlington, Va.-based firm that represents an array of defense companies. (1)

“When questions about the trip were first raised on April 20, my staff reviewed the matter and learned that the Rooney Group had been reimbursed for my air fare by Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts,” Abercrombie said. (2)

He had recorded that a lobbying group paid for his trip, but House rules forbid representatives from taking money for trips from lobbyists. (3)

Abercrombie says last week he corrected the form because a National Guard organization actually ended up paying for the trip. (3)

“It didn’t cost me a nickel,” Rooney said, though he added that he was unsure whether he paid for the trip and then was reimbursed by the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company. No officials of that group were available Wednesday to discuss the trip. (1)

Even if Rooney did get reimbursed, the trip would constitute a violation of House rules, said Melanie Sloan, of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonpartisan watchdog group. (1)

It’s not suddenly OK to make a trip on a lobbyist’s dime if you’re not doing it for the lobbyist client, or if the lobbyist is being reimbursed,” she said. (1)

Abercrombie “does not have a single vested business interest in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” Rooney said, “and I don’t have a single client that he was going up there to speak to.” (1)

But in 2001, Rooney represented several defense industry clients with business before the Armed Services Committee, according to Senate filings. They included BAE Systems, an international manufacturer of military vehicles and aircraft; SaabTech USA, which designs electronic warfare systems; and Nammo, a Norwegian producer of ammunition. (1)

Editor’s Note:  Abercrombie received $19,190 in 2007-2008 and $17,500 in 2005-2006 from BAE Systems. BAE was in turn the recipient of an Abercrombie “earmark” for $2.4 million for “mammal awareness.


(1.) Abercrombie Asks Ethics to Investigate His Travel

(2.) Abercrombie denies violating House ethics rules in 2001 trip

(3.) U.S. Rep. Abercrombie Changes Ethics Filing

Abercrombie Never Adequately Explained National Embarassment

Before leaving office, Abercrombie got unwelcome national media attention.

In November of 2009, then Congressman, Neil Abercrombie was flagged by CBS News on national television for a pattern of getting campaign contributions from the beneficiaries of his “earmarks.”

The CBS report is pretty clear in pointing directly to Abercrombie :

“A lot of the companies getting tax dollars have campaign ties to the member of Congress giving the money.”

“For example, Congressman Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii awarded Pacific Biodiesel a $3.5 million earmark to try to grow fuel for the Army in Hawaii. It turns out the founder of Pacific Biodiesel is a co-chair of the Congressman’s gubernatorial campaign.”

“The pattern is repeated over and over.”

“Abercrombie also gets donations from defense contractor BAE. BAE gets a defense earmark for ‘mammal awareness’.”