© 2023 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

New Blunt ad zeroes in on $107 million tax break for Carnahan wind farm

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 30, 2010 - After months of verbally hammering his opponent on the topic, GOP U.S. Senate nominee Roy Blunt has now launched the expected ad alleging that his Democratic rival, Robin Carnahan, and her brother -- U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan -- played a role in the $107 million in federal tax breaks that went to the wind farm co-owned by their younger brother, Tom Carnahan.

The congressman and his sister, now Missouri secretary of state, say they had no hand in their brother's wind farm or its tax benefits. The Carnahans say Blunt actually played a role because he has supported the original program -- begun under the first President George Bush -- offering tax breaks for alternative energy programs.

The 2009 stimulus spending directed more money to such efforts.

Blunt's ad asserts that the wind farm aid is an example of misspent stimulus money steered to Democratic allies of those running Washington.

The ad states that "Robin Carnahan campaigned for Obama and the stimulus," which her spokesman says is "a flat out lie."

The spokesman noted that she never campaigned for the stimulus and, since she wasn't a member of Congress, she didn't vote on it. Carnahan also has said she thought the stimulus needed more oversight, and has jabbed at Blunt for appearing at some events lauding certain stimulus grants when he opposed the overall bill.

Back to the wind farm. Tom Carnahan's Wind Capital Group, which owns five wind farms, weighed in today with a detailed memorandum that its officials say is intended to counter "some assertions about the project that bear little resemblance to the facts."

Among other things, Wind Capital says that the Blunt campaign inaccurately contended earlier this summer that Tom Carnahan's firm obtains its wind turbines from India. He says the turbines are manufactured in North Carolina and Jefferson City.

Begun in 2005, Wind Capital Group owns five wind farms, currently employs 40 people and say its alternative-energy projects have "generated over 5,000 jobs'' through firms using the energy and $600 million in investment.

"With all the electricity from Wind Capital Group's projects being purchased by electric cooperatives and municipalities in the state, over 100,000 Missouri homes are now being powered by clean, renewable wind energy," Wind Capital says.

Vice President Joe Biden visited part of the Wind Capital operation in April 2009. The tax break already had been announced, although it had been touted in the $90 million range. The federal tax break ended up totaling $107 million.

The tax break went to Wind Capital's Lost Creek wind facility, and came from the Department of the Treasury, which maintains that no members of Congress pay any role in who gets the funding. More than 1,000 alternative energy developers have qualified for grants.

(Click here to read a detailed account of the tax break program, according to Post-Dispatch reporter Bill Lambrecht.)

New Carnahan Ad Jabs Blunt over 'earmarks'

Meanwhile, Carnahan also has a new ad up on the air which takes on congressional "earmarks,'' in which members of Congress insert provisions benefiting projects in their districts. The ad highlights several unusual earmarks in massive appropriations bills that Blunt has voted for, including a tea pot museum and a potato research center.

Blunt has supported earmarks -- a favorite tool of the senator he hopes to succeed, fellow Republican Christopher "Kit" Bond, who has maintained that earmarks are the best way to make sure Missouri gets its share of federal largesse. According to Politico, Blunt requested $153 million in earmarks in the 2010 budget.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.