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Associated Press, Published May 23 2012

Congressman defends stripping sports sponsorship by military

SAVANNAH, Ga. — A Republican congressman from Savannah is defending his backing of a measure that would strip $80 million annually from the military budget used for sports sponsorships.

U.S. Rep. Jackson Kingston helped push an amendment through the House Appropriations Committee last week that would remove the money, a move that has drawn criticism from some NASCAR fans.

Kingston is a NASCAR fan, but says the push to get the government out of sports sponsorships is based on finances, not fanfare, The Savannah Morning News reported (http://bit.ly/KLhla4 ).

NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. suggested that Kingston and others backing the measure would have a change of heart if he went to a race and said that Kingston should get more facts about the situation.

“I would encourage them to do more homework, get more facts, understand the situation a little more. I know just talking to the (U.S. National) Guard ... they can't express to me enough about how much this program helps their recruiting.”

But Kingston says the nation can't “keep spending money we don't have.”

“I may not have been to a NASCAR race, but I have been to Iraq and Afghanistan and I've seen our men and women who fight for us,” he said.

At issue Minnesota Rep. Betty McCollum's annual push to get the government out of sports sponsorships.

McCollum lost a House vote 281-148 a year ago to put the brakes on NASCAR sponsorships. Even with Kingston's help, the proposed amendment to the $608 billion defense budget still faces an uphill battle.

The amendment also would end similar funding for programs in professional wrestling and fishing.

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Information from: Savannah Morning News, http://www.savannahnow.com


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