Earmarks Galore — and Online

by Brian Bolduc

Taxpayers against Earmarks, WashingtonWatch.com, and Taxpayers for Common Sense have launched an online database of every congressman’s earmark requests for fiscal year 2011. Over 39,000 requests were submitted this year, totaling $130 billion. The three watchdogs are hounding Congress for dragging its feet in spending transparency:

“Even though some members of Congress insisted that it was technologically impossible or would cost too much to create an earmark requests database, our three groups were able to build a database in less than six months for less than $100,000” said Stephanie Mesick, Director of Research and Outreach for Taxpayers Against Earmarks [in a statement].

They also have released their list of greatest hits:

  • Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND): $500,000 to support cool season legume research (recipient: University of Idaho College of Agriculture) . . .
  • Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM): $188,000 to develop a media resource center to promote the cultural richness of hot air balloons (recipient: Albuquerque International Balloon Museum Foundation) . . .
  • Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX): $2.5 million to redevelop historic downtown area and to purchase trash cans, bike racks and decorative street lighting (recipient: City of Baytown, Texas)
  • Rep. Don Young (R-AK): $26,000,000 to construct new addition onto existing swimming pool facility (recipient: Fort Richardson, Alaska)

The groups list the top ten spenders in each chamber. In the Senate, Louisiana’s senator Mary Landrieu requested the most in earmarks, amounting to $4.4 billion. Mississippi senator Roger Wicker requested the second most, clocking in at $3.6 billion. In the House, Rep. Jim Clyburn was the champ with $1.2 billion and Rep. Donna Edwards was second at $956 million. (No House Republicans were on the list.)

When you break down earmark requests by region, the pattern is predictable. The top five earmarked states are New York, New Jersey, California, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania — all relatively blue states with the exception of Mississippi (and Pennsylvania, if you’re feeling generous). Mississippi senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker know how to bring home the bacon — even while in the minority.

When you break down the requests by party, the pattern, again, is straightforward. So far House Republicans’ self-imposed moratorium on earmarks has kept all but four members in the fold. Those four turncoats made 241 requests that totaled $1 billion, significantly less than Democrats’ 18,000 requests, totaling $51.6 billion.

Take a look for yourself here.

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