OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Documents show that companies owned by a congressional candidate critical of federal stimulus spending were on notice that recent work done for the Cherokee Nation was part of the government program, despite the candidate’s claim that he had “not a clue” about the funding source.
Markwayne Mullin has described the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 as a “horrible waste of tax dollars.” After The Associated Press reported last week that his company, Mullin Plumbing, had received stimulus money under contracts with the Cherokee and Muscogee (Creek) tribes, Mullin said he wasn’t aware the federal government paid for the work.
Cherokee Nation documents obtained by the AP show that a company executive signed contracts indicating Mullin Plumbing was aware it must meet certain requirements of the act, including that it had federal vendor registration numbers required to bid on stimulus projects.
Mullin released a statement Thursday suggesting he typically doesn’t focus on the details of the numerous bids his company sends out each year.
“Mullin Plumbing responds to countless requests for bids each year, and thankfully we win many of them based on our work and reputation,” the statement said. “We have some great people who put these bids together and submit them, so I don’t see the details. What I focus on is building a successful business that provides over 100 Oklahoma jobs.”
Mullin was released from the hospital Thursday after spending several days responding to a torn esophagus and was unable to comment, a campaign official said.
Data posted on www.recovery.org, a government website created to track recovery funds, shows Mullin Plumbing had five contracts totaling $335,000 for plumbing work awarded by the Cherokee Nation on two separate projects to construct affordable housing in eastern Oklahoma. A Mullin Plumbing subsidiary, Mullin Pumping, also was awarded a $34,700 contract on a separate housing project by the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.
All the projects were funded by federal stimulus money administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Mullin, a Republican, has made his opposition to federal spending a centerpiece of his campaign in the race to replace retiring Democratic U.S. Rep. Dan Boren in eastern Oklahoma’s sprawling 2nd Congressional District.
Mullin’s Democratic opponent, longtime prosecutor Rob Wallace, has suggested it is hypocritical of Mullin to rail against the federal stimulus while his company benefitted from the program. Wallace has received $2,500 from the Cherokee Nation, according to records from the Federal Election Commission.
Wallace’s campaign manager, Kyle Gott, renewed his call Thursday for Mullin to either support the federal stimulus funding or return the money his company received.
“Markwayne Mullin is a classic Washington, D.C. hypocrite who says one thing and does another,” Gott said. “We have enough self-serving politicians in Washington. We don’t need to send another one there.”