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Report: Mississippi is a big recipient of federal pork barrel spending

PORK: Mississippi is one of the nation's largest recipients of federal pork. Photo illustration by Steve Wilson

A report by the pro-financial transparency group Open the Books shows that Mississippi is one of the largest recipients of federal pork.

The report ranks Mississippi 16th per capita among the states and the District of Columbia with $6.3 billion in federal government grants awarded from fiscal year 2016. That year, taxpayers spent $583 billion in grants to various entities. That adds up to $2,134 in federal grants for every Mississippi resident.

U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi) directed $4.6 billion in grants to the Second District, ranking him 30th out of 435 House members.

Pork is a bipartisan enterprise, as the top 10 pork producers in the House are divided evenly between Republicans and Democrats. U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (D-California) topped the list with $63 billion in grants for the Fifth District in California, which is centered around Napa County.

The report also has an interactive map that allows readers to put in their zip codes and find grants in their area.

The parent company of Mississippi Power, the Southern Company, received $162 million in federal grants, with most of it coming in grants for the now-defunct gasifiers for the Kemper Project clean coal power plant. The gasifiers were supposed to transform lignite coal mined on site into a natural gas-like substance called synthesis gas to fuel the plant's electricity-generating turbines.

Mississippi Power announced in July that it had abandoned its three-year effort to get the gasifier plants operational and is running the plant on natural gas.

The Southern Company was one of 3,000 for-profit institutions that received $2.5 billion in grants. Thirty-three companies on the Fortune 100 list received $3.2 billion in federal grants from fiscal 2014 to 2016, including Boeing ($773 million) and General Motors ($453 million).

Among the more egregious federal grants included:

  • $5,062,054 for a childcare facility operated out of a mobile home that has been investigated by local, state and federal officials over allegations of neglect and three deaths — U.S. Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas).

  • $2.6 million for the production of Space Racers, an animated children's cartoon — U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Alabama).

  • $180,921 for a study on how alcohol affects men's attention and sensitivity to sexual interest cues — U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa).

  • $667,629 for a study on how to use soap operas to help reduce HIV in urban black women — U.S. Rep. Mike Capuana (D-Masachusetts).

  • $222,531 for development of a mobile phone game to help prevent HIV in sub-Saharan African youth — U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia).

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