A: The purpose of the settlement was not for schools--it was for the environment, for rehabilitation of oyster beds, for the fishing industry on the Coast that has suffered so much. That seems like a reallocation of the purpose of the whole settlement. So at first glance, it seems like not such a good idea. Now, the governor was out beating his chest about what a great settlement this was, and this is the same guy when he visited the Coast during the oil spill said, 'I don't smell anything but lawnmowers running.' This is the same governor who took other BP money and instead of giving it to fishermen to make up for lost income like they did in Louisiana, built a softball field. That's ridiculous. I think the settlement money should be used for what the settlement was for--rehabilitating marine life and making up for lost income to the seafood industry.
Pressed on the 2005 Katrina bill specifically, he conceded: "I probably would have supported it," adding that "some of the money [in the Katrina bill] was misspent." When it comes to government spending, he argued, "It's one thing to provide immediate storm relief and to protect people's lives and property, it's quite another to benefit campaign supporters."
Asked whether there was a specific instance of government abuse he had in mind, McDaniel responded: "Not that I can say. I think the people of the coast understand that some of the money was misspent," he said. "I'm not alleging that Sen. Cochran misspent it."
A campaign spokesman reached out the morning after the interview to "clarify that Chris would've been a yes vote on the disaster bill.
Cochran helped obtain $29 billion for the devastated region in 2006 and earned the nickname "The Quiet Persuader" from Time magazine for steering the spending past fiscal conservatives.
He is also one of the Senate's top farm policy experts, and served as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee from 2003 to 2005. Cochran is playing a lead role in negotiating legislation that would reauthorize $500 billion in farm programs. He remains the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee's agriculture and defense panels.
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