February 27, 2009
Maybe Judd Gregg’s withdrawal as Commerce Secretary nominee really was for the best.
In a lengthy and detailed investigative report, the Associated Press reveals today that the New Hamshire GOP senator funneled federal earmarks to a defunct Granite State air-force base, despite the fact that he and his brother had lucrative real estate investments there.
The key details:
Gregg, R-N.H., personally has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in Cyrus Gregg’s office projects at the Pease International Tradeport, a Portsmouth business park built at the defunct Pease Air Force Base, once home to nuclear bombers. Judd Gregg has collected at least $240,017 to $651,801 from his investments there, Senate records show, while helping arrange at least $66 million in federal aid for the former base.
So let’s lay out what we know here.
On one side, Judd Gregg seems to have a significant personal financial stake in Pease.
Cyrus Gregg is a partner in a development firm, Two International Group, that has built roughly a dozen office buildings at Pease. And according to state corporate records and Senate disclosure reports, Judd Gregg has invested in several of his brother’s projects.
How much has Judd Gregg made from those investments?. According to the AP, which looked at Gregg’s Senate disclosure filings, “at least $240,017 and possibly as much as $651,801” between 1999 and 2007 in rent and capital gains.
Now, let’s look at the other side: What has Gregg done to benefit Pease from the Senate?
Over to the AP again:
In the Senate, Gregg has repeatedly won federal money for Pease’s redevelopment:
• At least $24.8 million for a new federal building. The senator said the city of Portsmouth wanted to move an unattractive federal building out of its picturesque downtown. The new building hasn’t been built yet, he said.
• At least $24.5 million for other New Hampshire National Guard projects at the base, including a new fire and crash rescue station, a new medical training facility, repair to an aircraft parking ramp and the upgrade of an aircraft parking apron.
• $8.9 million for a new wing headquarters operations and training facility at Pease for the Air National Guard.
• At least $8 million to help Pease’s airport transition from military to civilian use, including improving terminal security, buying snow removal equipment, building an aircraft deicing area and adding a parking lot.
• $475,000 to shield office buildings at Pease from noise from the former Air Force runway, which is now used by private planes and the New Hampshire Air National Guard. Earlier, Gregg lined up $25,000 in federal money for noise monitoring equipment at Pease.
• $400,000 for development of a photonics and laser technology program at the New Hampshire Community Technical College campus at Pease. Earlier, Gregg and then-Sen. John Sununu, R-N.H., won federal money to develop the college’s biotechnology lab, and education and training center at Pease.
Gregg claims he broke no laws or ethics rules, and that the earmarks don’t benefit him financially. But improvements to Pease’s terminal security, and efforts to shield Pease’s office buildings from noise, would appear, at least potentially, to increase the value of his investment.
It’s not clear whether Gregg’s interest in Pease played a role in his withdrawal as Commerce Secretary nominee. AP reports:
The senator has said his withdrawal had nothing to do with anything the White House uncovered in his background. A White House spokesman, Ben LaBolt, declined to discuss the matter with the AP. AP began looking into the Greggs’ activities at Pease before then but had not yet contacted them or the White House before Judd Gregg withdrew.
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