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Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart's earmarks raise eyebrows

Lincoln Diaz-Balart has procured millions in federal funding to benefit a small Miami-Dade defense-contracting group that has donated tens of thousands of dollars to his political campaign and that of his brother, Mario Diaz-Balart.

Medley contractors Locust USA and Mark Two Engineering began contributing to the Diaz-Balarts in 2001, the year Locust secured its first small defense contract. Through this year, those contributions totaled more than $67,000.

Locust was awarded $20.8 million in Pentagon research and development contracts from 2001-2007, federal contracting records show. The Herald reported Sunday that at least 44 percent, $9.2 million, came through Congressional earmarks sponsored by Lincoln Diaz-Balart.

His Democratic opponent's campaign charged today it's "not the first time that Diaz-Balart has been investigated for unethical behavior and pay to play politics.

Raul Martinez's campaign noted that in June the Herald reported that Diaz-Balart took $7,100 in campaign cash from a medical company weeks before he co-sponsored a bill with his brother "that would help the company earn millions of dollars." The campaign noted that Diaz-Balart took an additional $4,750 from the company after the story ran.

In a prepared statement, Diaz-Balart said today he was "proud of having secured federal funds for high technology defense industry jobs in our community, including over 180 million dollars to keep SOUTHCOM in South Florida. I will continue working to help make South Florida a center for high tech defense jobs and research and development.

"Insinuations that my (transparent and public) efforts are due to campaign contributions are not only false-they're politically driven," he said.