Paul Ryan’s stimulus problem

August 16, 2012

Updated at 6:10 p.m. with response from Romney campaign.

Paul Ryan says his office mishandled constituent requests for stimulus funding, which is why he claimed to have never requested stimulus funds even as the documents told a different story.

The GOP's new vice presidential candidate has said repeatedly that he has never asked for stimulus funds, but recent reports indicate he has written letters on behalf of local businesses seeking them.

The Boston Globe reported Tuesday that Ryan had sought stimulus funds for local energy conservation groups from the Department of Energy in late 2009, and a 2010 Wall Street Journal report indicated he sought funds for another local group from the Labor Department.

Even Thursday, Ryan continued to insist he never sought stimulus funds.

 

"No, I never asked for stimulus," Ryan said in a local TV interview in Cincinnati Thursday.

In a statement provided to The Fix by the Romney campaign, Ryan says his congressional office should have treated the requests as policy work rather than standard constituent service. But he said the buck stops with him.

"After having these letters called to my attention I checked into them, and they were treated as constituent service requests in the same way matters involving Social Security or Veterans Affairs are handled," Ryan said. "This is why I didn't recall the letters earlier. But they should have been handled differently, and I take responsibility for that."

Ryan has said he didn't request stimulus money for a while. During a 2010 interview with a Boston radio station, he offered a similarly firm statement, according to a Globe report today.

“No, I'm not gonna vote [against] something, then write letters to the government to send us money,” Ryan said at the time. “I did not request any stimulus money.”

Ryan wrote a series of letters between October and December of 2009 on behalf of the Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corp. and the Energy Center of Wisconsin, as the Globe reported this week.

The Wall Street Journal in 2010 reported that Ryan had also sought funds from the Department of Labor on behalf of a local group and asked his office to square that with his anti-stimulus rhetoric.

"If Congressman Ryan is asked to help a Wisconsin entity applying for existing federal grant funds, he does not believe flawed policy should get in the way of doing his job," his office said at the time.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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