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Getting Serious About Earmarks

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Looks like our colleagues over at Taxpayers for Common Sense are getting fed up about earmarks. In the case of Rep. Don Young’s $10 million earmark to benefit a Florida political contributor, they have filed a complaint with the House Ethics Committee. TCS raises the question over how the earmark found its way onto the 2005 transportation bill after it had passed both houses of Congress.

TCS has reviewed thousands of earmarks, and they have never before found one that was edited in such a manner. During the 13-day interval from when Congress passed the bill and the president signed it, the wording of the bill changed. Wording outlining a $10 million highway widening project was turned by a stealth editor into a project to build a highway overpass. A project that would provide a windfall for Young’s Florida real estate fundraiser.

In the complaint, TCS makes the case that the timing of the earmark alteration, coming after it was voted on, makes it invalid and does not have the effect of law. You would think that the Ethics Committee would act to guarantee that Congress retains the act of appropriation and not relinquish the constitutional duty to heaven knows who.

Sunshine…openness and transparency have the effect of keeping people honest. It’s easier than ever to shine light on the process of earmarks – even with the new loopholes discovered in the Senate provisions, but we have much more work to do in order to have true openness, evidenced by the gutting of ethics rules by the Senate earlier this summer. Hopefully the bloggers and the MSM will stick with us in this fight.