Pork for Scandal-plagued NJ University: So much for congressional vetting of earmark requests

Pork for Scandal-plagued NJ University: So much for congressional vetting of earmark requests

March 12, 2010  Harpers Magazine / ABC News

Department of Homeland Security investigators have contacted New Jersey officials with questions about the fate of federal grant money awarded to Stevens Institute of Technology to help improve the nation’s port security, ABC News has learned.

Two state officials described the federal inquiries about the possible misuse of nearly $3 million in Homeland Security grant money distributed to the Hoboken-based technical college, which has spent months under fire over allegations that it mismanaged its books. The state officials discussed the conversations on the condition they not be identified.

The non-profit university had in recent years become a darling of New Jersey’s congressional delegation, which has directed millions of dollars in congressional earmarks and federal grants to the school. In 2008 alone, Stevens received $12.8 million in defense related earmarks requested by Sens. Robert Menendez (D), Frank Lautenberg (D) and other New Jersey lawmakers.

The key question here is how has Stevens, a small, scandal-plagued university, continued to receive substantial earmarks despite being the subject of multiple ongoing investigations over alleged misuse of federal funds. The school’s budget last year was about $100 million, of which about 8 percent came in the form of earmarks.

Oh, and ABC left out that Menendez’s former chief of staff and intimate friend, Kay LiCausi, is one of the college’s earmark lobbyists.

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