The Problem with Earmarks:


Everywhere you look there seems to be another congressman writing earmarks for campaign contributors. This time we have Rep. Ray LaHood (R-IL):

Firefly Energy, a three-year-old Peoria firm, received a significant boost when U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood earmarked $2.5 million in federal defense funds for it last fall.

A member of the House Appropriations Committee, LaHood also helped direct $26 million in defense funds to Caterpillar Inc., the largest employer in his district.

In addition, he steered $200,000 to Peoria’s Proctor Hospital.

What LaHood, R-Peoria, did not mention when touting the federal funds he brought home to his district was that lobbyists for all three businesses were at the same time raising money for his campaign.

Earlier in the year LaHood had told the 23 lobbyists that organize fundraisers for him to stop holding them so that he could avoid the “perception of a special relationship.” After crunching the numbers LaHood found out that 8 of the 23 lobbyists had raised $99,655 for his campaign, or a third of all his campaign contributions. And as it turns out one of those lobbyists, Bill Lane, lobbies for Caterpillar, Inc.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) – who has affirmed his support for earmarks – helped secure the Caterpillar funding on the Senate side. However, Capterpillar lobbyists have never held a fundraiser for him.