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ST. PAUL, Minn.
Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota voted against what she calls "the failed Pelosi trillion-dollar stimulus," but that didn't stop her from writing letters to federal agencies on behalf of seven grant applications seeking stimulus dollars for her district.
The Center for Public Integrity reported Monday that Bachmann was among scores of GOP and Democratic stimulus opponents who wrote behind-the-scenes letters requesting funds for projects. The nonpartisan Washington-based group obtained almost 2,000 lawmaker requests through a public records request and posted them online.
Bachmann sent letters in August and September 2009 supporting grant applications for projects including the Northstar Commuter Rail Line, the St. Croix bridge, road upgrades and a broadband expansion.
"I am writing to highlight an important project," she said in all six letters to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
Bachmann has criticized the stimulus frequently as she runs for a third term against Democrat Tarryl Clark and Independence Party candidate Bob Anderson. Bachmann represents Minnesota's 6th District in the northern Twin Cities suburbs and along a commuter corridor northwest past St. Cloud.
Bachmann said through her spokesman Sergio Gor that she has an obligation "to ensure stimulus dollars are spent on the most worthy projects." She said she continues to oppose the "so-called stimulus package."
GOP Reps. Erik Paulsen and John Kline also sent letters for projects after voting against the stimulus.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act did not contain earmarks, but lawmakers pushed for favored projects by "lettermarking," or sending letters to federal agencies even though they can't tell the agencies how to spend the money. President Barack Obama issued a directive in March 2009 telling agencies to consider grants on the merits even if they got political pressure.