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DHS: No Political Influence in Stimulus Funding Decisions

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano (Chris Hondros/Getty Images) Today's roundup of stimulus coverage:

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano defended her department's awarding of stimulus dollars after the Associated Press reported that political consideration influenced decisions over which border checkpoints got stimulus funding. Napolitano said the story "was just wrong and I'll say that because there was no kind of political issues involved there." The Department of Homeland Security reportedly keeps an internal priority list of border stations that need repairs or upgrading; according to the AP, stations higher on that list were passed over for stimulus funds in favor of lesser-used facilities because of political lobbying.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has opened an inquiry in Missouri after the state chapter of the NAACP told Vice President Joe Biden that too few minority-owned businesses were involved in stimulus work there, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The NAACP claims the state Department of Transportation didn't make "vigorous efforts" to maximize the involvement of minority- and women-owned businesses, as federal guidelines require. A spokesman for MoDOT said, according to the paper, that "most of the stimulus projects contracted so far have been in rural areas, where there are fewer minority contractors than in larger cities."

The Commerce Department has received some 2,200 applications for stimulus funding for broadband projects, USA Today reports. The applications request a total of $28 billion, nearly four times the $7.2 billion available from the Recovery Act for bringing high-speed Internet access to underserved areas. The flood of applications is particularly noteworthy because, as ProPublica noted earlier this month, major Internet providers AT&T, Verizon, Qwest and Comcast declined to apply for this round of grants, leaving the field to smaller players.

A construction company in Ohio is suing the administration of Gov. Ted Strickland for failing to act quickly enough to secure stimulus dollars, reports The Columbus Dispatch. The company, National Building Resources Inc., says Strickland was slow to apply for stimulus dollars for road projects, keeping thousands of workers who might have been employed on stimulus-funded projects this summer out of work. A spokeswoman for the governor claims he is moving quickly.

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