Published March 29, 2010
Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
Under the Weather
A $5 billion program funded by last year's stimulus package to weatherize homes and create jobs has only retrofitted a "fraction of houses and created far fewer construction jobs than expected.
The Associated Press reports only 30,250 homes have been retrofitted — about five percent of the overall goal — and the project has fallen well short of creating 87,000 jobs as promised.
In California it has created 84 jobs and weatherized 12 homes. In Alaska, Wyoming and the District of Columbia, the program has yet to produce a single job or retrofit one home.
An Energy Department official attributes the low numbers to the startup phase and says they are on target to meet overall goals.
Fifteen phony products have won a label from the U.S. government certifying them as energy efficient. The Government Accountability Office says the Energy Star program is vulnerable to fraud and abuse because it does not verify claims made by manufacturers.
Federal investigators recently submitted fake products to test the system. Among the hoax items that ended up receiving Energy Star ratings were a gasoline-powered alarm clock named "Black Gold" that was a foot-and-a-half high and 15 inches wide, and a product billed as an air room cleaner that was actually a space heater with a feather duster and fly strips attached.
Cracking the Whip
The Republican National Committee is investigating how nearly $2,000 in party funds were spent at a bondage-themed nightclub in Los Angeles.
An RNC official says a so-called donor submitted the expense from Cub Voyeur. RNC spokesman Doug Heye called the use of party money unacceptable and says the committee has asked for a reimbursement.
Out of the Picture
Former Illinois Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich — who was kicked out of office last year — might have to pony up the money for his own official portrait in the Hall of Governors at the state Capitol.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports House lawmakers voted to deny taxpayer funds for the project but agreed to allow Blagojevich to pay for the painting himself. The measure moves on to the State Senate for approval.
— Fox News Channel's Lanna Britt contributed to this report.