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Frank Wolf: Fraud Peacock

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Dancing PeacockRep. Frank Wolf wants you to think he’s taking a bold stand against fraud, loudly squawking for an independent auditor on the 2nd phase of the Metro to Dulles project, estimated to cost as much as $4 billion:

Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.), whose district encompasses much of the route for the new Metrorail extension into Loudoun County, is requesting that the agency overseeing construction of the line bring in an outside auditor to monitor design and construction of the second phase of the project.

The project, of course, hasn’t even begun taking bids yet. But reality has never stopped Rep. Wolf from trying to get attention! Why wait until the project has actually begun to issue ominous warnings about waste, fraud & abuse to divert attention from the fact that you’re holding up tax cuts for everyone to get even bigger tax cuts for your wealthiest donors? Caw!

Strangely, I haven’t heard the fraud peacock squawk about this billion-dollar transportation expenditure:

By the end of the December, the Virginia Department of Transportation will have advertised $1.1 billion in construction and maintenance projects since the fiscal year began on July 1, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) told the Dulles Area Transportation Association at a luncheon Monday. About $500 million of that figure will be advertised just this month.

Why no dire warnings from Rep. Wolf about waste, fraud & abuse on this project? Oh, right. Because this project is supported by Virginia’s Republican governor. And Frank the fraud peacock is partisan above all else, only getting his feathers up about Democrats – never members of his own party.  

  • VA Blogger

    Let me count the ways.

    1) First, are you saying that an independent auditor is a bad idea? How would you justify such a stance?

    2) At the beginning of the project is precisely the best time to bring in an auditor. It is far, far more preferable to have oversight and accountability from the outset of a project than to come in halfway through.

    3) You seem to think that, because the project hasn’t started yet, that Congressman Wolf is simply trying to “get attention”, and inventing a problem for the sake of a press release. This line of thinking ignores the fact that cost overruns are a hallmark of every major construction project. Show me a project of this size that didn’t go over budget. Please tell me on what planet you found a belief system that gives you faith that Metro, of all things, will become the first in history to keep its costs in check.

    4) Why would Wolf need to divert attention away from anything else? He was just overwhelmingly re-elected a month ago, and his position on taxes hasn’t changed since then. Moreover, Wolf represents the 4th-most wealthy district in the country. His position on tax cuts represents the best interests of his constituents (as does Gerry Connolly’s, in the neighboring 11th, who holds a similar position).

    5) But for the sake of argument, let’s say you’re right and he was diverting attention away from his tax stance. Why would he wait until Dec. 7th, the same day that President Obama announced his compromise plan, to divert attention away? It seems to me that the time to distract people is when there isn’t a bi-partisan compromise on the table.

    6) The “billion-dollar expenditure” you shoehorn in a reference to is not one project, but the aggregate of all transportation projects in Virginia.

    7) If you’ll remember, an independent audit would be unnecessary for VDOT, since an independent audit was just completed a few months ago, over the objections of Democrats who found the exercise pointless.

    8) Those projects are state projects, under the purview of Governor McDonnell, Secretary Connaughton, and the General Assembly. Congressman Wolf is a federal official; it would be highly irregular for him to come in, heavy-handed, on state projects, especially those outside of his district.

    9) Transportation projects aren’t partisan. The construction and maintenance projects proposed by McDonnell’s VDOT I’m sure would look suspiciously similar to the projects proposed by Governor Deeds’ VDOT. This is what VDOT does: transportation construction projects. Wolf has never attacked VDOT projects in the past when we’ve had eight years of Democratic Governors; to turn around and suggest that he’s biting his tongue about VDOT because a Republican is in charge is incredibly absurd.

    10) Along the same lines, Metro to Dulles isn’t partisan. It’s not “supported by Democrats”, and opposed by Republicans. Frank Wolf has been a steadfast supporter of the Metro extension, and has worked with Governors of both parties, worked with Congressmen of both parties, and worked with local officials of both parties, to see it through. The fact that he wants to see it done in the best manner possible, and wants to protect his constituents from paying for cost overruns, is a natural extension of his support for the project, and of his duty to his constituents. That’s the hallmark of a great Congressman.

    I cannot possibly fathom how anybody could read Wolf’s letter and reach the conclusions you did unless they’re 1) completely removed from reality, and 2) so vehemently opposed to Frank Wolf for personal reasons that you can find fault in the most benign actions. This post is simply amazing in its unsubstantiated vitriol and its hyperpartisan inanity.  

  • cluster****.  Among the many people who bear a share of the blame for this debacle, I’d put Frank Wolf high on the list, although Connolly and Kaine weren’t particularly helpful either.  My main objections, now as they were then: 1) no-bid contract to Bechtel; 2) the fact that “Big Dig” Bechtel was awarded the contract; 3) an overhead option as opposed to a smart-growth-friendly “tunnel” in Tysons; 4) no real thought given to how the “Silver Line” – or whatever it’s called – will impact the rest of the (struggling) Metro system; 5) no serious thought given to whether this massive expenditure on Metro out to Dulles Airport was really the best use of finite mass-transit resources (e.g., as opposed to just building Metro to Tysons, putting in excellent bus service from the airport to the Orange Line, investing to upgrade capacity on the Orange Line…); 6) just poorly thought out in general, such as not figuring out all these funding issues BEFORE the project went through!  Bottom line, this whole thing was done in a slipshod manner, without sufficient transparency and competition, without funding in place, without safeguards against “Big Dig” type cost overruns, etc., etc.  It’s a little late NOW for Frank Wolf to come in and be “shocked, SHOCKED!” about what’s going on with a project that HE PLAYED A HUGE ROLE in getting to where it is now.  Hecukva job.