Waste of the Week—Special Edition
October 22, 2008
Lawrenceville, NJ - U.S. Senate candidate Dick Zimmer today endorsed naming Denver International Airport after Senator Frank Lautenberg, as suggested by former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb. Lautenberg has bragged that he directed 351 billion taxpayer dollars to build the airport he uses to reach his winter home in Vail, CO.
"If Frank Lautenberg skied in New Jersey instead of Vail, maybe Newark Airport would have been able to get 351 million dollars," said Zimmer.
Denver International Airport was completed 16 months behind schedule at a cost of $4.8 billion, nearly $2 billion over budget. Its dysfunctional automated baggage-handling system became a national joke. Overspending on the airport was the subject of an episode of NBC's continuing series, "The Fleecing of America."
"Senator Lautenberg's pork-barrel spending may be helping Colorado but it's hurting the New Jersey voters he is suppose to represent," Zimmer said. "We now see one reason why New Jersey is dead last in the rate of return on our federal tax dollars. Senator Lautenberg has been taking money out of the pockets of New Jersey taxpayers to fund extravagant projects in other states.
In an address given to the Greater Denver Chamber of Commerce, Senator Lautenberg said the following about the funding for the Denver International Airport and his role as an appropriator:
It is amazing in these days of inflation and the depreciation of the dollar what a measly half a billion bucks will get you in terms of plaques...I am a very popular fellow at the beginning of calendar year when the appropriation bills are being developed. All of my colleagues, Republican, Democrat, liberals, conservatives, they all pat me on the back, write me letters, make phone calls. I am asked to fund projects in their states... Denver is going to get 351 million dollars. I guess that is what you call a Rocky Mountain high. (Senator Lautenberg's Address to Greater Denver Chamber of Commerce. From Denver Chamber of Commerce Collection, Denver Public Library Collection WH1216 Tape 6, 2 April 1990.)
In August, during the Democratic National Convention, former Denver Mayor Webb praised Lautenberg for his success in securing funds to build the Denver International Airport.
Webb also won some laughs when he told the audience of his administration's connection to the Garden State. Webb said that while he was mayor he had to enlist the aid of Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) to hold together enough federal funding to get the new Denver International Airport built. ‘A wing of that airport should probably be named after Frank Lautenberg,' Webb said. ("Democratic National Convention: Denver's first black mayor addresses New Jersey delegation," The Star-Ledger. 26 August 2008)