The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Paul Ryan, under scrutiny for making contradictory statements about his previous endorsement of federal stimulus projects in his district, is now saying his letters of support were “mishandled.”
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Ryan: Letters Supporting Stimulus Projects Were Mishandled
Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan told an Ohio television station that he never asked for federal stimulus money. But hours after the interview was posted online Thursday, the Wisconsin congressman backtracked, saying that he’d forgotten about letters he wrote, endorsing stimulus projects in his state.
In an interview with the Cincinnati station WCPO, Mr. Ryan dismissed reports that he’d sought the funds, saying he had not. He then added, “I don’t recall. I haven’t seen this report, so I really can’t comment on it.”
Records show that Mr. Ryan, who has served 14 years in Congress, wrote four letters in 2009 to Energy Secretary Steven Chu. He offered support for Wisconsin projects and urged Mr. Chu to give “prompt and full consideration” to those stimulus proposals.
Later Thursday, after press reports pointed out the discrepancy, Mr. Ryan released a statement saying the letters had been mishandled by his office.
“After having these letters called to my attention I checked into them, and they were treated as constituent service requests in the same way matters involving Social Security or Veterans Affairs are handled,” Mr. Ryan said. “This is why I didn’t recall the letters earlier. But they should have been handled differently, and I take responsibility for that. Regardless, it’s clear that the Obama stimulus did nothing to stimulate the economy, and now the president is asking to do it all over again.”
Mr. Ryan sent the letters on behalf of the Energy Center of Wisconsin, a nonprofit that promotes energy efficiency, and Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corp. While he touted projects from his home state to the energy secretary, Mr. Ryan later spoke of the possibility of repealing the stimulus and putting the money toward better policy.
In the WCPO interview, he continued to criticize President Barack Obama’s bill.
“I opposed the stimulus because it doesn’t work, it didn’t work. It brought us deeper into debt,” Mr. Ryan said. “It was about $1.1 trillion when you add the borrowing cost. It put us deeper in debt and further out of work.”