Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart has procured millions in federal funding to benefit a small Miami-Dade defense-contracting group that has donated tens of thousands of dollars to his political campaign and that of his brother, fellow U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.
Medley contractors Locust USA and Mark Two Engineering began contributing to the Diaz-Balarts' campaigns and political action committees in 2001, the year Locust secured its first small defense contract. Through this year, those contributions totaled more than $67,000.
Locust was awarded $20.8 million in Pentagon research and development contracts from 2001-2007, federal contracting records show.
At least 44 percent, $9.2 million, came through Congressional earmarks sponsored by Lincoln Diaz-Balart, The Miami Herald found. The largest -- $3.7 million -- came in 2006.
''My work on behalf of Locust USA is meant to add jobs to our local economy by putting our community at the forefront of military technology development,'' Diaz-Balart wrote in reply to Herald questions.
Campaign spokesman Carlos Curbelo said there's ''no relationship'' between the earmarks and political contributions. ``We have a very strong firewall between our campaign and the government office.''
I'm calling bullshit. There's no way that there is a "firewall" between something this big. Any member of Congress that didn't know he was getting this kind of money from a contractor would know that turning around and securing earmarks for that very same contractor would be a conflict of interest. An honest and ethical member of Congress would recuse himself from that particular earmark process. But not a Diaz-Balart.