Queen of earmarks? GOP senator Lisa Murkowski cashes in big on Dems’ $1.5 trillion spending law

Alaska senator ranked 4th in earmarks even though she represents 48th most populous state. Earmarks include $10 million hotel demolition.

Updated: April 17, 2022 - 7:13am

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The Golden Horseshoe is a weekly designation from Just The News intended to highlight egregious examples of wasteful taxpayer spending by the government. The award is named for the horseshoe-shaped toilet seats for military airplanes that cost the Pentagon a whopping $640 each back in the 1980s.

This week's Golden Horseshoe is awarded to Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who placed fourth among U.S. lawmakers in earmarked funding for home state pork projects in the $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill passed in March — despite representing the 48th most populous state in the nation.

Among the earmarks secured by Murkowski, a liberal Republican facing a conservative primary challenge in her bid for reelection this year, was $10 million for the city of Fairbanks to tear down the abandoned Polaris Hotel.

The Polaris was built in 1951 and renovated as recently as 1996, according to government waste watchdog site OpentheBooks.com. Vacant since 2002, the structure is covered with mold, asbestos and green fungus, KTVF, NBC Fairbanks reported.

The building posed "significant health and safety risks to the Fairbanks community," according to Murkowski's office.

Aside from the $10 million hotel demolition, Murkowski's earmarks also included $1.1 million to study marine animal health and changing oceans in Seward and $500K to "create a trail of totem poles and storyboards representing Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian clans along the Juneau waterfront."

"Through this omnibus bill, I've again used my leadership role on the Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee to address many of Alaska's needs, while holding off riders that would have harmed our state's resource industry," Murkowski boasted in a press release touting her earmarks.

"We fully fund the PILT program, direct significant funding to clean drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, provide for wildfire mitigation and natural hazards monitoring, and invest in our public lands," she said. "I secured continued funding for public safety and to tackle the ongoing crisis of missing, murdered, and trafficked indigenous women and girls. And, to create a healthier, safer Alaska, we provide crucial resources to help prevent suicide, substance misuse, and alcohol abuse." 

"As we rebuild and strengthen our economy, the programmatic and congressionally directed funding I've secured in this measure will provide greater certainty, hope, and support for Alaskans as we work together to realize our state's unrivaled promise," Murkowski added.

Murkowski's earmarks include: 

  • Statewide (Rossia): $350,000 to provide funds to repair and rehabilitate sites listed on the National Register for Historic Places;
  • Statewide (Fish and Wildlife Service): $750,000 for an Invasive Species Early Detection Rapid Response Strike Team in southcentral Alaska;
  • Chugach National Forest: $5.77 million for the maintenance, construction, and restoration of portions of the Iditarod Trail;
  • Klawock: $1.22 million to purchase needed landfill infrastructure and associated maintenance costs for the cities of Klawock, Craig, and Coffman Cove to comply with new garbage removal requirements;
  • Kodiak: $3.25 million to replace a failing wastewater lift station;
  • Juneau (Sealaska Heritage Institute): $500,000 to help support the Kooteeya Deiyi project, which will create a trail of totem poles and storyboards representing Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian clans along the Juneau waterfront;
  • Matanuska-Susitna Borough: $385,000 to implement the community's fire reduction initiative to address spruce bark beetle infestation, which can lead to catastrophic wildfire;
  • Seward: $1.1 million for the Alaska Sealife Center to study marine animal health and changing oceans. 

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