In addition to the money that Idaho has received under the federal stimulus plan, the state was apparently awarded a number of additional congressional districts…34 to be exact!
According to Recovery.gov, which bills itself as “the U.S. government’s official website providing easy access to data related to Recovery Act spending and allows for the reporting of potential fraud, waste, and abuse”, Idaho has been awarded $1,216,341,830 under the stimulus plan, which has to date “created or saved” 2,103 jobs. This is spread out over Idaho’s 36 congressional districts.
Wait a second…but Idaho only has two congressional districts, right? Any grade schooler studying Idaho civics can tell you that, but the folks at Recovery.gov apparently can’t. According to the site, stimulus funds went to Idaho’s 00th, 1st, 2d, 3d, 4th, 5th, 8th, 9th, 16th, 19th, 28th and 35th congressional districts. 1st and 2d districts aside, we find $3.9 million went to non-existent Idaho districts, where 39.2 phony jobs were “created or saved”.
According to watchdog.org, a total of 440 “phantom districts” nationwide were awarded $6.4 billion in order to “create or save” 30,000 phony jobs. Among some of the more interesting findings in the article is that North Dakota now has 99 congressional districts, and South Carolina’s 7th district received more than $27 million in stimulus funds, despite being retired in 1930.
A spokesman for the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board blamed faulty data from stimulus money recipients for the erroneous job “creation or salvation” numbers. So, all this begs the question, can we trust the government to tell us the truth about how our tax dollars are being spent under the stimulus plan?
The Idaho Freedom Foundation contacted Rep. Mike Simpson (R – 2d District) for his reaction. “This is a situation in which I am disappointed to be proven correct—I opposed the stimulus package because I didn’t think adding nearly a trillion dollars to our deficit would help our economy, and now we find that the data the Administration is putting out about the so-called ‘success’ of the bill is completely wrong,” said Simpson. “This is a prime example of what happens when government bureaucracy tries to justify itself. If a business put out this type of misinformation, it would be called fraud. With the Democrats planning to pass to bring up another stimulus bill before the end of the year, we need accurate information about what works—and what doesn’t work—to improve our economy.”
We asked Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) for his reaction to the story, and he gave us this statement, “The facts stated are clearly false, unreliable and should come as no surprise since unemployment rates are the highest in decades. As I said when the stimulus passed, this bill was nothing more than a wish list of pet projects and massive spending that has done little to quickly assist our economy and the families who still desperately need help. While a very limited number of infrastructure projects were appropriate, clearly they have not accomplished what the President promised. I strongly opposed the stimulus bill , I voted against it and I stand by that vote.”
Senator Mike Crapo issued the following statement: "It is very disappointing to see so many errors in the Administration’s website that attempts to trumpet new and ‘saved’ jobs, not to mention the Congressional districts listed that don’t exist. While this is all in an effort to promote the benefits of the stimulus bill, it is similarly troubling to hear from the chief federal oversight official for the stimulus program that he can’t certify that the number of jobs reported as created or saved on Recovery.gov is accurate and auditable. I voted against the stimulus plan and the other government bailouts. With unemployment now nationally over 10%, and 20% in some Idaho counties, neither the stimulus nor the “Recovery.gov” website appears to be living up to their billing by the Administration and some members of Congress.”
The Idaho Freedom Foundation contacted Congressman Walt Minnick's office for comment, but have not yet received one.