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Topics: Earmarks

A Curated Selection of Sunlight Foundation's Articles About Earmarks

On May 11, 2010, the House of Representatives and the Senate both introduced bills to create a centralized database for earmark requests. Currently, earmark requests are disclosed in disparate fashion with non-searchable files posted to individual lawmaker websites or the House and Senate Appropriations Committee website. A centralized database will allow people to follow spending requests made by lawmakers with a simple online search.

An earmark is a directed spending request made by a lawmaker in an appropriations or other spending bill. Recent disclosure changes, beginning in 2006, made earmarks far more transparent. The missing piece is a centralized format for collecting, storing and distributing to the public over the Internet information about earmark requests. The Earmark Transparency Act will finish the job.

While earmarks account for a very small portion of the total discretionary spending budget, they are linked to a high number of congressional scandals. Transparency in earmark spending is necessary to ensure an accountable government.

  • Earmark Transparency Act will finally bring transparency to earmarks

    The Earmark Transparency Act of 2010, a bipartisan bill introduced today by Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Olka., John McCain, R-Ariz., Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., vastly improves the way in which information about earmarks is disclosed.

  • From earmark to disappearmark: Bush administration policy shift cut funding for congressional projects

    In 2005, Rep. David Price, D-N.C., earmarked more than $19.6 million to launch a light rail project in his district—one that he had promised to continue his “strong support for” by finding additional federal funding through his position on the House Appropriations Committee.

  • Earmarks Boost Small Kentucky Business

    After it hired a lobbyist and its employees contributed to a member of Congress' leadership political action committee, a Kentucky company saw its defense business quadruple thanks to earmarks.

  • The Favor Factory: Earmarks and Campaign Cash Connections

    Three members of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee have received an average of $102,600 in campaign contributions from employees and political action committees of the companies they've favored with earmarks in the first six months of 2007.

  • Defense Contractors Reap Windfall in 2005 Earmarks

    The nation's top defense contractors were also the biggest beneficiaries of congressional earmarks in 2005, an analysis by the Sunlight Foundation has found.

  • Earmark Transparency Makes More Sense Than a Ban

    The recent policies imposed by the House Appropriations Committee and the House Republican Caucus to ban for-profit earmarks and all earmarks, respectively, will reduce the ability of the public to track directed spending and do little to stem this type of spending.

  • Earmark My Words

    In the case of the top ten earmarkers for FY 2008, the top words they used from 2007-2008 do often align with their duties in either the Appropriations Committee or in bringing home the bacon to their home state.

  • Dennis Hastert's Real Estate Investments

    House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert has used an Illinois trust to invest in real estate near the proposed route of the Prairie Parkway, a highway project for which he’s secured $207 million in earmarked appropriations. The trust has already transferred 138 acres of land to a real estate development firm that has plans to build a 1,600-home community, located less than six miles from the north-south connector Hastert has championed in the House.

  • Earmark Reform Bills

    A comprehensive listing of earmark reform measures from the previous two Congresses.