Republican congressional candidate Chris Stewart's consulting firm took federal stimulus money and inked deals worth more than $6 million in government contracts a confluence of cash flows his Democratic challenger called on Thursday the "height of hypocrisy."
Jay Seegmiller, who is challenging Stewart in Utah's 2nd Congressional District, leveled the charges while standing in front of the State Capitol; it marked another turn in upping the race's contentiousness.
"Stewart, who grew up on a dairy farm, was first in line to milk the federal cow," Seegmiller said. "Actions speak louder than words. If he's going to talk the talk, he should be walking the walk."
Stewart is the president and chief executive officer of The Shipley Group, a Farmington-based consulting firm that lists several federal government agencies it does work for including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Air Force.
According to USASpending.gov, The Shipley Group signed 153 contracts with the federal government dating back to 2001. The total value of those contracts exceeded $6.3 million, according to the website.
And, according to a federal government website that tracks federal stimulus money, The Shipley Group got an environmental contract for $35,100 in 2010.
Stewart, who is also a former Air Force pilot and author, has made it a centerpiece of his campaign to reduce federal spending.
Stewart's campaign denied taking stimulus money, saying "We have never sought for nor bid on any stimulus contracts." But the campaign defended the government contracts, calling The Shipley Group's effort an attempt to help make government more efficient.
"We provide these critical services far more efficiently than government employees can, helping to reduce the size of government as well as government spending," Stewart said in a statement. "If we had more companies like mine, we could create more private sector jobs, save taxpayer money, and greatly enhance government operations."
Stewart called Seegmiller's attack ironic because of his years working for Amtrak.
Amtrak is the public name for the National Railroad Passenger Corp., a company whose stock is owned solely by the federal government.
"But my opponent is a union activist with the United Transportation Union, which consistently fights many cost-saving measures," Steward said. "It would seem he is the last person in this race who could complain about government contracts."
The campaigns have sought to sharpen their differences since a televised debate in which Seegmiller criticized Stewart's economic plan.
Both candidates have done two debates to date on television and two more are scheduled in Cedar City and St. George in the next two weeks.
As the campaigns head into the final weeks, Stewart has out-raised Seegmiller and currently has $169,938 in cash while Seegmiller is at $14,518, according to Federal Election Commission reports filed this week.