Rep. Ortiz gets payments from firm that gets his earmarks

October 22, 2010 08:04

Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-Texas) has requested millions of dollars in earmarks that have benefited a security firm he founded. He sold his interest in the company on a contract and still gets payments.

By Susan Crabtree at The Hill


Since 1997, the port – which is in Ortiz’s district — has hired Amtex Global Services, Ortiz’s former firm, on contracts that have ranged from $900,0000 to more than $1 million annually. The company continues to pay Ortiz for the sale of his stake in it.

Yet financial disclosure reports filed by Ortiz between 2005 and 2010 show a $250,000 to $500,000 holding labeled Amtex Security, as well as $15,000 to $50,000 worth of annual “interest/capital gains.”

Ortiz’s spokesman said the congressman didn’t get a lump payment for the sale, and instead was given a note and has been receiving payments in the range of $15,000 to $50,000 each year that constitute principal and interest.

Ethics watchdogs, however, said Ortiz still has a financial interest in the earmarks because the federal funds help provide work and a stream of income for Amtex.

“Both answers cannot be true,” Holman said. “The fact that an accountant for Ortiz is reporting a steady stream of income from Amtex Security strongly suggests that Rep. Ortiz may be violating his pledge to avoid personally benefiting from earmarks.”

According to Ortiz’s earmark request letters, since the earmark pledge was instituted, earmarks Ortiz secured or won that have gone to entities that have hired or have contracts with Amtex include:

• A $1.148 million earmark for Corpus Christi’s Ship Channel Improvement Project for fiscal year 2009.

• A $750,000 earmark for the Port Aransas Ferry Boat Expansion in fiscal year 2008 and a $475,000 earmark in fiscal year 2009.

• A $47,000 earmark for Port Aransas police communications equipment in fiscal year 2008. The recipient is the City of Port Aransas.


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