by Jim Nintzel
The Arizona Republic follows up on a story first broken by Tucson Weekly in 2010: How Don Kelly Construction, the family-owned pipeline company where Tea Party congressional candidate Jesse Kelly works, has received tens of millions of dollars in stimulus funds:
Jesse Kelly, the Republican candidate running to replace Gabrielle Giffords in Congress, argues that President Barack Obama's economic-stimulus program failed to boost the economy through infrastructure projects and that government spending is driving the country to bankruptcy.
But the family construction company where Kelly has worked for about eight years, Don Kelly Construction Inc., has benefited from at least three contracts financed by millions in stimulus dollars and has relied almost exclusively on government-funded pipeline projects for its business.
The Arizona Republic has found that since 2010, additional stimulus and government-funded projects, totaling at least $60.8 million, have gone to the company.
"When Kelly talks about cutting (government) spending, but his own family's company is profiting from that very spending, you have to scratch your head and wonder whether he really believes what he says," said Rodd McLeod, a spokesman for Barber. "If he's really against it, why is he in that business?"
Kelly himself estimates that close to 90 percent of the firm's work comes from government contracts worth tens of millions of dollars. And around the country, the firm—which is owned by Kelly's father, Don Kelly—frequently bids on public-works projects funded by both stimulus dollars and federal earmarks.
"The stimulus is not about Don Kelly Construction, and it shouldn't be," Kelly says. "It's about the country as a whole. Even if the company itself—which is not my company—benefitted from these projects, that doesn't make it right at all."
He says he doesn't know if the company is seeking other work funded by stimulus dollars or earmarks.
"I don't have a clue," Kelly says. "I'm sure we're going after every single project that's out there, so there may be more."