Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) Earns Dishonorable Mention in CREW’s Annual Most Corrupt Report
Washington, D.C. – Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) named Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) as a Dishonorable Mention in its Most Corrupt Members of Congress report, an annual, bipartisan look at Washington’s worst. Rep. Dicks used his position as chairman of a powerful House Appropriations subcommittee to direct millions of dollars in public funds to the Puget Sound Partnership, a Washington state environmental agency headed by his son, earning him a spot in CREW’s latest report.
“After spending more than 30 years in Congress, Rep. Dicks apparently learned a few tricks on how to game the appropriations process,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “Directing millions of dollars to his son’s organization via noncompetitive agreements and grants is ludicrous. Conduct like this reinforces the widely held view that members of Congress are more interested in enriching themselves and their family members than in public service.”
In 2007, just seven months after Rep. Dicks assumed the chairmanship of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, David Dicks – the congressman’s son – was appointed as executive director of the Puget Sound Partnership. As chairman of the committee that controls federal funding for environmental projects, Rep. Dicks pushed to increase the federal government’s annual contribution to the partnership from $20 million in 2008 to $50 million in 2010. Questionable spending by the agency – discovered by the Washington State Auditor – led to a review of the Puget Sound Partnership’s contracts by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As a result of its review, the EPA forced the partnership to return more than $120,000.
Mr. Dicks left the Puget Sound Partnership in 2010 to become director of strategic partnerships and civic engagement at the College of the Environment at the University of Washington. In fiscal year 2010, Rep. Dicks earmarked $4 million to the college.
“It is hard to believe the increased funding to the Puget Sound Partnership is mere happenstance,” continued Ms. Sloan. “Members of Congress should be working on behalf of their constituents, not themselves or their family members.”
This is the eighth edition of CREW’s Most Corrupt report, an annual look at unethical conduct by members of Congress. This year’s list includes seven Democrats and 13 Republicans; nine are repeat offenders. Since 2005, CREW has named 81 members of Congress to the list, 32 of whom are no longer in office.