An earmark by any other name is still ...

Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) has asked to have his name removed from a facility he created because he’s tired of being criticized for building a “monument to me.”

Earmark opponents have assailed Doyle for using a $1.5 million earmark to build the Doyle Center for Manufacturing Technology in 2003.


The center aims to “become a bridge between the [Department of Defense], its prime contractors” and small businesses, according to its website.

“The Doyle Center will revitalize [Pennsylvania’s] economy by providing small local manufacturers with the tools they need to participate in military contracts with big defense contractors like Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon,” Doyle said in a 2003 release.

Weeks ago, however, Doyle decided he had grown tired of the attacks from earmark foes such as GOP Reps. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeLindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Kelly, McSally virtually tied in Arizona Senate race: poll The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Nareit — White House cheers Republicans for storming impeachment hearing MORE (Ariz.) and Jeb Hensarling (Texas), who, on the House floor last year, challenged additional earmark requests Doyle had made.

Doyle recently told the center’s board of directors to remove his name from the organization’s title, but he still wants earmarks for it. In fact, he said this year he has requested what he believes to be another $1.5 million in the defense appropriations bill (he said he can’t be sure of the exact amount).

“We were getting a lot of heat solely because it had my name on it,” Doyle said. “I’m not abandoning my work for the center. Those people down there are doing great work.”

He also wrote Flake and Hensarling to defend the center’s work and to let them know that he had asked its board to remove “Doyle” from the nonprofit organization’s name.

“As an aside, I would also mention that over the course of this year, the Doyle Center will be changing its name in an effort to better illustrate the depth and breadth of its work,” Doyle wrote to Flake. “From the beginning, I had never asked the Board of Directors to name the Center after me, and have always been somewhat uncomfortable having my name at the front given that it does not really add to explaining their mission.

“While I have been very supportive of the Center, I have never wanted politics to interfere with their work in any way,” he added.

Doyle ended the letter with a handwritten note: “Let’s talk if you have any questions / comments.”

Flake hadn’t read the letter as of Tuesday and simply laughed when informed that Doyle had asked the center to remove his name.

“But he’s still getting earmarks for it?” Flake asked incredulously. “He thinks that’s somehow going to make it OK?”

Flake argues that the center is a prime example of a proliferating practice of directing earmarks to organizations to help them or other companies get more federal money. He defines these as federal subsidies for federal contracts, or “earmark incubators.”

Doyle is a longtime ally of Rep. John Murtha (D), the dean of the Pennsylvania delegation, and has learned from his mentor how to use earmarks to help spur his western Pennsylvania district’s economy.

The same year Doyle got the first earmark for the Doyle Center, Murtha created the John P. Murtha Institute for Homeland Security at Indiana University of Pennsylvania by directing $20 million its way.

Another organization Murtha essentially created through tens of millions of dollars in earmarks shares an officer with the Doyle Center. Edwards J. Sheehan Jr., the senior vice president and chief financial officer of Concurrent Technologies Corporation (CTC), is the chairman of the Doyle Center’s board of governors.

Doyle and the center’s executives argue that the organization is trying to spur Pennsylvania’s economy by helping small- and medium-sized manufacturers combine their resources to compete for Department of Defense contracts.

“To be clear,” Doyle wrote in the letter, “this Center was formed because the DoD had a specific need to be addressed. It was not formed on a whim or hope that someone would find a way to utilize them.”

He also claimed that the center has a “demonstrated track record of success.”

Dennis Thompson, the center’s president, echoed those sentiments. But when asked how many companies had received defense or government contracts because of its work, Thompson said only about a half-dozen companies had been involved so far, and ultimately 15 companies will be.

“We’re in this research and development stage and we’re testing the model,” Thompson said, noting that the plans will be “scaling up” in the next 18 months.

One of the major accomplishments of the center that both Doyle and Thompson cite is a conference it held in Pittsburgh last fall at the Sheraton Station Square. The topic was Network Centric Manufacturing, the term the center’s executives have come up with to refer to the combining of various small manufacturers resources as a way to compete for contracts.

Doyle gave the opening remarks that day, and several defense companies, as well as officials from the Defense and Commerce departments, were represented, including Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, an undersecretary of Defense and an assistant secretary of Commerce.

The center still bears Doyle’s name on its website, but Thompson said the board of directors will be meeting July 8 to choose between three alternatives.

And Thompson doesn’t believe stripping “Doyle” from its title will give the nonprofit less clout.

“I think its mission and the research we’ve done are being embraced,” he said. “We’ve been approached by several commercial defense companies who are interested in what these [smaller] companies can produce.”