WICHITA - The first formal campaign forum pitting Congressman Mike Pompeo against former Congressman Todd Tiahrt took place Monday at a meeting of the Wichita Crime Commission. Tiahrt is challenging Pompeo for his old seat in the August 5th Republican Primary.
Mike Pompeo criticized Tiahrt's time in office for his earmarks, provisions in budgets that direct funds to be spent on specific projects: "Earmarks are also corrupting; you can see it in every practice for 20 years."
Tiahrt defended the practice, and responded by talking about the earmark for a million dollars he got for the Wichita police department's efforts to catch the BTK Strangler: "...and people who oppose earmarks need to explain to us ... maybe we should introduce them to the next victim that Dennis Rader had picked out, because we know who that is."
They also disagreed about government eavesdropping and each other's travel using government funds, in what some called a pretty rough and tumble forum.
Tiahrt accussed Pompeo of not being responsive to the people of the Fourth Congressional District of Kansas: "Mr. Pompeo talks about all these wonderful things that they've been doing the last four years; half our airplane companies are gone, we have 1,500 jobs in Brazil, we've got layoffs at the rest of the airplane companies."
Pompeo criticized Tiahrt's earmarks while in office, provisions in budgets that are for specific projects: "He won't tell you for all the earmarks he got for folks that had nothing to do with Kansas. How about a pier in San Francisco? How about a company in Colorado Springs that he later went to work for? Those have nothing to do with Kansas."
Pompeo accused Tiahrt of being part of a corrupt Washington system. Tiahrt called Pompeo's track record, "dismal."