Washington (CNN) – Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is the latest target of national Democrats in their ongoing crusade against Republicans they accuse of stimulus hypocrisy.
McDonnell's office announced Monday that Virginia will receive a combined $24 million in federal funds over the next four years to develop health care information technology and implement electronic medical records. The funds come straight from a nearly $1 billion pot of health care money made available to states by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
McDonnell, a up-and-coming Republican who was sworn into office last month, thanked Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for approving the money and said the cash is "critical" in helping Virginia upgrade its health care infrastructure.
"The federal funding awarded to Virginia will allow us to develop an information technology system that will safeguard our ability to track health records and provide our physicians with the technological tools they need to provide the highest quality service possible," McDonnell said in a statement.
But that high praise reeks of hypocrisy, according to the Democratic National Committee. During his campaign for the governorship last year, McDonnell said the stimulus bill would create crushing long-term debt. He also made an issue early in the race of opposing $125 million in unemployment benefits made available to Virginia by the Recovery Act.
DNC spokesman Hari Sevugan, who has also blasted Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a possible 2012 GOP presidential contender, for lumping stimulus money into his new budget, said McDonnell's acceptance of the federal money is "part of a pattern of gross hypocrisy which has irrevocably tainted Republican credibility on the stimulus and spending. "
"The truth is, as independent observers have confirmed, the stimulus has provided millions of jobs for Americans and as Gov. McDonnell concedes made 'critical' investments in our communities. Unfortunately, Republicans would rather play dishonest political games than admit they opposed something that is helping our economy because Democrats supported it," Sevugan said in an e-mail.
McDonnell's office countered by pointing out that while the governor criticized elements of the stimulus package during his campaign, he also told the Washington Post last February that he would accept stimulus money because the money comes from Virginia taxpayers.
Tucker Martin, a spokesman for the governor, said the health IT grants accepted Monday were applied for by the previous governor, Democrat Tim Kaine.
"At least we know the DNC won't let little things like facts get in their way," Martin told CNN in an e-mail.
Over the past week, Democrats have criticized a raft of GOP officeholders after news reports revealed that several congressional Republicans who voted against the Recovery Act ultimately took credit for stimulus-funded projects in their districts. Among the more prominent Republicans who voted against the bill but sought stimulus cash: Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, Utah Sen. Bob Bennett, Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander and South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson.