Opinion

Commentary: Kentucky U.S. Rep. Rogers helps a few prosper

You can give U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Somerset, this: He truly believes that charity begins at home.

Home, for Rogers, doesn't just mean his congressional district, the second poorest in the nation, or even the state of Kentucky. It almost literally means home: his family, his closest allies and strongest supporters.

Herald-Leader reporter John Cheves' stories about Rogers unconscionable funneling of money to pet projects that build up his political capital or enrich his financial backers and family members would always be distressing, but are now particularly so.

Friday, when the first of Cheves' stories appeared, another headline on the front page read: "Jobless aid restored, but employment outlook dim."

Inside the paper were pictures of mattresses placed end-to-end on the floor at the Hope Center's emergency center for homeless people. The facility, with 118 beds, regularly gives shelter to 200 people a night. Center officials believe the economy has increased both the number of residents and the length of their stays. In addition, they note, it's close to highways that bring in people from Central and Eastern Kentucky.

Thank goodness the Hope Center is building additional capacity because, only the day before, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke had told Congress the economy is "unusually uncertain" and unemployment will likely remain high.

Rogers and those who speak for him tell us it is absolutely coincidental that one of Rogers' major campaign donors, J.C. Egnew, is chairman of the board of the Somerset-based non-profit National Institute for Hometown Security, which has benefited from $52 million in federal earmarks orchestrated by Rogers. And as chance would have it, Egnew also owns a tent-making company that has gotten millions in federal orders. NIHS' commercialization director, Shannon Rickett, also just happens to be chairwoman of the Republican Party in Rogers' 5th Congressional District.

Likewise, we're assured it's just happenstance that Rogers has gone ape over federal funding to protect cheetahs in Namibia while his daughter is grants administrator for the Cheetah Conservation Fund.

Rogers knows we're poor in Kentucky; but does he have to add insult to injury by acting like we're dumb, too?

To read the complete editorial, visit www.kentucky.com.

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