LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln on Tuesday criticized Rep. John Boozman's pledge not to seek any money for pet projects in his district, saying her Republican challenger's earmark moratorium was an "election year conversion" that coincided with his bid for her Senate seat.
Lincoln said Boozman's decision earlier this year to support the House GOP"s moratorium on earmarks hurt constituents in his district. She also said that he was instead relying on Lincoln to make the requests for his district.
"I will not tie one arm behind the backs of Arkansans," Lincoln said in a statement released by her campaign. "Arkansas taxpayers deserve to get a good return on their investment, and I consider it part of my responsibility to ensure these important projects are justified and are funded."
House Republicans voted on the earmark moratorium in March. Earmarks send taxpayer dollars to projects in lawmakers' districts outside the competitive process required for other federal spending.
Boozman announced his bid for Lincoln's seat in February. Lincoln is seeking a third term. She's considered one of the most vulnerable incumbents seeking re-election in Washington.
A spokesman for Boozman said he backed the moratorium to cut down on the national debt and to make the budget process more transparent.
"You can't run a country on a Visa card, Sen. Lincoln," Boozman spokesman Patrick Creamer said.
Lincoln's campaign said Boozman now is encouraging constituents to make their earmark requests to Lincoln. Creamer dismissed the comment as "absurd."
"From the first day he was elected to the House, Congressman Boozman has always encouraged constituents with appropriations requests to work with our senators as well, since projects included in bills that pass the House aren't always included in the Senate versions," Creamer said.