early and awkward

Paul Ryan Insists He Didn’t Take Stimulus Money, Then Realizes He Totally Did

NORTH CANTON, OH - AUGUST 16: Republican vice presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks at a campaign event at Walsh University on August 16, 2012 in North Canton, Ohio. Ryan is campaigning in the battleground state of Ohio after being named as the vice presidential candidate last week by Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
Uh … the intern did it. Photo: Jeff Swensen/2012 Getty Images

Paul Ryan voted against President Obama’s federal stimulus bill, and has repeatedly attacked the legislation, calling it a “wasteful spending spree” and “a monstrosity.” Thus, the revelation that he and several other Republicans asked for stimulus funds for companies in their district caused a minor stir when it was first reported by The Wall Street Journal in 2010. The issue was revived this week when the Boston Globe reported that Ryan wrote four letters to Energy Secretary Steven Chu requesting stimulus money for two companies in his district to develop green jobs, which were both eventually awarded. In a 2010 interview and again on Thursday, Ryan indignantly declared that he’d never do such a thing. Then he admitted several hours later that upon further investigation, he definitely did ask for stimulus funds.

At first, Ryan’s spokesman responded to the reports this week by referring media outlets to a statement made by his office in 2010 after the Journal reported that he wrote one letter to the Department of Labor asking for stimulus money:

If Congressman Ryan is asked to help a Wisconsin entity applying for existing federal grant funds, he does not believe flawed policy should get in the way of doing his job and providing a legitimate constituent service to his employers.”

The Boston Globe reports that even after writing five letters to two departments, Ryan continued to deny that he’d asked for stimulus money. In an October 2010 radio interview with WBZ’s Nightside with Dan Rea, Ryan said he wouldn’t vote against something, “then write to the government to ask them to send us money,” adding, “I did not request any stimulus money.” In an interview with Cincinnati’s WCPO-TV broadcast Thursday, Ryan responded to question about the new reports, saying, “No, I never asked for stimulus.” Then he backtracked a bit, saying, “I don’t recall — and I haven’t seen this report so I really can’t comment on it. I opposed the stimulus because it doesn’t work, it didn’t work. It brought us deeper into debt.”

Unfortunately, when Ryan double-checked his facts, he wasn’t as lucky as his new running mate. Here’s his statement, per the New York Times:

After having these letters called to my attention I checked into them, and they were treated as constituent service requests in the same way matters involving Social Security or Veterans Affairs are handled. This is why I didn’t recall the letters earlier. But they should have been handled differently, and I take responsibility for that. Regardless, it’s clear that the Obama stimulus did nothing to stimulate the economy, and now the President is asking to do it all over again.’”

So while Ryan made false statements in two interviews, he didn’t actually realize he was lying. The Globe notes that Ryan didn’t explain why someone in his office didn’t tell him that they actually had requested stimulus funds when the issue first came up in 2010. If Ryan is telling the truth, we’re guessing there’s a panicky junior staffer out there who’s been telling him or herself for the past two years, Come on, it’s not like the guy’s going to be asked to be vice-president.

Ryan Denies Taking Stimulus, Then Admits He Did