Drudge latest to push baseless smear that Stupak “sold” health care vote for “airport grants”

The Drudge Report is the latest to push the completely baseless smear that Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) “sold” his health care vote for “airport grants,” a claim Stupak has strongly denied. In fact, there is no evidence for this charge; indeed, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) awarded grants in 47 states -- including one in Minority Leader John Boehner's district -- as part of a decades-old airport improvement program.

Drudge advances right-wing smear that Stupak traded his health care vote for airport grants

Drudge: “Sold: Obama Trades Airport Grants for Stupak's Vote.” On March 23, The Drudge Report posted a link to the National Republican Congressional Committee's “Deal Watch” blog with the headline, “Sold: Obama Trades Airport Grants for Stupak's Vote...” From the Drudge Report:

Districts of Republican congressmen--including Boehner-- also awarded grants

Airport in Boehner's district awarded funds. FAA awarded an airport in Darke County, Ohio -- which is in Boehner's district -- with $108,738 to rehabilitate a runway.

Airport in Pence's district awarded funds. FAA awarded an airport in Anderson, Indiana -- which is in Rep. Mike Pence's district -- with $75,000 for airport improvements.

11 airports in Young's district awarded funds. FAA awarded funding to 11 airports in Alaska -- all of which are represented by Rep. Don Young. In total, airports in Alaska have received more than $56 million in FAA grants.

Airport in King's district awarded funds. FAA awarded $394,969 to an airport in Sioux City, Iowa -- which is located in Rep. Steve King's district.

Airport in Kingston's district awarded funds. FAA awarded $2.7 million to an airport in Brunswick, Georgia -- which is in Rep. Jack Kingston's district.

Airport in Bachmann's district awarded funds. FAA awarded $75,000 to an airport in Paynesville, Minnesota -- which appears to be in Rep. Michele Bachmann's district.

Stupak has also denied the allegations

The Hill: “Stupak pushes back against claims airport grant bought his vote.” According to a March 23 Hill article, “Stupak denounced suggestions of links between the grants and his healthcare vote as a smear campaign from Republicans who are 'grasping at straws' to discredit Democrats who voted in favor of the bill.” The Hill reported that Stupak made a statement “denying Republican claims that federal grant money for airports in his district helped convince him to vote for healthcare reform.” The Hill further quoted Stupak as saying:

It is absurd to think I would change my vote for a tow truck and a fence to keep deer from walking onto the runway of an airport in my district. I have long advocated for comprehensive healthcare reform and voted in favor of the House healthcare reform bill -- a fact that many opponents of healthcare reform can't seem to acknowledge.

Conservative media accuse administration of bribing Stupak for health care vote

McCaughey: Grants “may have had something to do with his decision.” Citing Stupak's press release, Betsy McCaughey said on Fox News' Hannity: “It may be that Bart Stupak was not bamboozled by the executive order. It's clear that executive orders cannot change the law. But on Friday, Stupak announced over $700,000 in brand new federal funding for three small airports in his district. Now, that may be coincidence, but it seems to me as if it may have had something to do with his decision,” adding that “they're buying votes for their bill with our money.” Host Sean Hannity replied, “Airport kickback?” [Hannity, 3/22/10]

Big Journalism: Stupak is a “cheap date.” On BigGovernment.com, Izzy Lyman wrote: “Holy Mackinac Bridge, Batman. The blogosphere is calling Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) a 'cheap date.' ... Considering what it took to get him to vote for the U.S. Senate health care bill, that's a fitting way to describe Slick Stupak. According to Stupak, he struck a deal with President Obama, trading his 'yes' vote for a 'worthless, non-binding' executive order prohibiting federal funding for abortions. And perhaps an airport or three."

Instapundit: “A STUPAK PAYOFF?” On the blog Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds wrote: “A STUPAK PAYOFF? 'U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Menominee) announced three airports in northern Michigan have received grants totaling $726,409 for airport maintenance and improvements. The funding was provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration.' Probably just a coincidence."

Sweetness & Light: "[W]e like to think that our politicians aren't being bought and sold at such low prices." On the conservative blog Sweetness & Light, Steve Gilbert quoted from Stupak's press release and wrote: “It's just a coincidence, no doubt. And there is surely a lot more to come. At least we like to think that our politicians aren't being bought and sold at such low prices.”

Right-wing media repeatedly smear Democrats with allegations of “special deals” in health bill

Right-wing media have repeatedly attacked health care reform and smeared Democrats with baseless allegations that the Obama administration has attempted to buy votes or has cut “special deals” or “bribes” for health care reform.