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‘Tea Party Candidate’ Santorum Procured $3 Million In Federal Earmarks As Senator

Even while touting himself as a “Tea Party kind of guy before there was a Tea Party,” presidential candidate and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) isn’t fooling many among grassroots conservatives, who label him as “the poster boy for big government.” And Santorum’s past as a “prolific supporter of earmarks” won’t make it any easier.

While serving as a U.S. senator in 2003, Santorum procured over $3.1 million in federal earmarks for social conservative causes — over $1 million of which has gone to the anti-gay Urban Family Council. The Christian group and its president William Devlin have actively opposed gay rights, from promoting a same-sex marriage ban to supporting laws criminalizing homosexuality.

Devlin even criticized the enactment of a stronger hate-speech ban in Philadelphia in 2005:

“There is a collective spirit of fear hanging over this city. Right now, the gays own Philadelphia…Over the last ten years, I’ve been to pastor after pastor in this city, trying to get them to put pressure on the elected officials who’ve been pushing the homosexual agenda. They’re all afraid to speak up. They’re like the frog in the kettle: they’ve sat there in silence for all this time while the gays kept turning up the water temperature. Now it’s come to a boil, and they’re still in the pot.”

In turn, the UFC and its president William Devlin campaigned for Santorum during his 2006 campaign, potentially violating the IRS rules regarding acceptable political activity for religious organizations. Along with the three other Christian groups in the Pennsylvania Pastors Network, the UFC hosted a get-out-the-vote drive in local churches at which Santorum was the only candidate represented; he gave a seven-minute speech to pastors on the importance of the same-sex marriage initiative via a pre-recorded video.

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Santorum’s close relationship with social conservative groups like UFC, including the securing of federal dollars for their causes, has led right-wing writers to characterize Santorum as more inclined “to make government pro-family, not to make it small.” As RedState’s Ben Domenech concludes, “It’s precisely the Republican Party of Rick Santorum that even makes the Tea Party movement necessary.”

Sarah Bufkin