"The project uses funds that had been earmarked for education."
Somebody found this sentence in an English dictionary, and thought it as incorrect, arguing that there should have been either "...uses the funds…have been earmarked ..." or "...used the funds...had been earmarked..." .
So there occured a debate over whether it's a grammatical mistake or it's that the author had deliberately expressed that way to produce a special connotation or implication.
I think the latter form(... used the funds...had been earmarked...) would sound correct and natural.
But I'm wondering, additionally,
1) if there would ever be a context or situation where " ... USES the funds... should sound correct and natural.
For example, is it possible to be when one is stating their plan or arrangement, where a series of people and their relevant actions are presented in order?
2) if 1) is possible, is "...USES the funds...HAD been earmarked..." possible? If still possible, what is the difference between it and "...uses the funds...HAVE been marked..."?