It’s an interesting claim given that there are two possible interpretations of the phrase. Indeed, it can refer to money given to campaign workers to buy things like gas and doughnuts. As a piece by Christopher Beam on Slate.com points out:
It’s cash that’s given to help get people to the polls. The money can go toward perks like coffee and doughnuts for door knockers, gas for volunteers to chauffeur elderly voters, or pocket money for kids who distribute fliers and sample ballots on Election Day. Also known as “walking-around money” or “get-out-the-vote money,” it’s most common in poor areas of Philadelphia; Chicago; Newark, N.J.; Baltimore; Los Angeles; and other big cities. Both parties use street money, but it’s more common among Democrats, who tend to be better represented in the areas that rely on it.
Additionally, it can refer simply to pocket money used for meals or cabs and such.
Certainly, Kucinich has accepted his share of the stimulus for his district — to the tune of more than $150,000 for groups in his area.
This would include $95,920 for Onix Networking so it could buy the Google Maps API, $50,000 to allow Cleveland Public Theater to hire a marketing and communications director, and $7,124 through HUD for lefty group Environmental Health Watch to do something called neighborhood stabilization. While this is chump change compared to $787 billion, it’s still a nice piece of walking-around money in and of itself.
In his letter, Kucinich states:
While one may quarrel with the use to which the economic stimulus has been put, or even whether fiscal stimulus is an appropriate governmental response to the worst economic recession since the Great Depression, it is not possible to argue that the economic stimulus resembles “walking-around money.” There is no evidence with which I am familiar which substantiates your claim, and much which refutes it.
Therefore, I am writing to demand that you produce your evidence or retract your comment. I look forward to hearing from you.
Leaving aside the $150,000 Kucinich brought home to his district, there is evidence that the allocation of “stimulus funds” was politically motivated.
On average, Democratic districts received one-and-a-half times as many awards as Republican ones. Democratic districts also received two-and-a-half times more stimulus dollars than Republican districts ($122,127,186,509 vs. $46,139,592,268). Republican districts also received smaller awards on average. (The average dollars awarded per Republican district is $260,675,663, while the average dollars awarded per Democratic district is $471,533,539.)
Read that again — Democratic districts received one-and-a-half times as many awards as Republican districts and two-and-a-half times more money.
This would seem to be prima facie evidence of vote buying on a grand scale.
That Mr. Kucinich is playing power politics in hopes of garnering a powerful seat on a powerful committee is unsurprising given his record of political maneuvering. However, the evidence which he has demanded was easy to find with a few minutes of searching.
Perhaps Mr. Kucinch should issue the apology and retraction he demanded from Mr. Issa.