The saga of the Pork Wars continues with news about the battle between conservative bulldog [sw: Jeff Flake] (R-Ariz.) and Appropriations Chairman [sw: Jerry Lewis] (R-Calif.); a new name for earmarks: "projects initiated by a member"; a new face on the Appropriations Committee, but one with the same old problems; more questions about Jerry Lewis’ connections to lobbying firm and that firm’s connections to a PAC run by Lewis’ step-daughter; and [sw: Duncan Hunter] (R-Calif.) makes his earmark requests, or his "projects initiated by a member," public.
- Robert Novak writes about the crusade to stop earmarks and its opponents. Last week Rep. [sw: Jeff Flake] presented amendments challenging numerous earmarks in an appropriations bill only to lose every vote. He even failed to win the vote of the supposedly anti-earmark Majority Leader [sw: John Boehner] (R-Ohio), "At Charlie Palmer’s restaurant last Wednesday, assembled Republican campaign contributors cheered as John Boehner was introduced as the majority leader who never has sponsored an earmark. Later that day, Boehner voted against each of Flake’s attempted earmark removals. In the House, one conservative reformer commented to another seated beside him, ‘With this leadership, we never will get rid of earmarks.’"
- Rep. [sw: Bill Young] (R-Flor.), a member of the Appropriations Committee, say that there are "no more earmarks." That’s because, "We don’t call them that anymore." According to Young, the chairman of the subcommittee on Defense Appropriations, the new term is "projects initiated by a member." Well, I’m glad we fixed that problem. No more earmarks to worry about.
- Who will take the tainted Appropriations seat vacated by ethical black holes [sw: Duke Cunningham] (R-Calif.) and [sw: Tom DeLay] (R-Tex.)? Looks like [sw: Ken Calvert] (R-Calif.) is still the front runner despite his Dennis Hastert-esque problems. The FBI pulled Calvert’s financial disclosure forms and are looking into his connections to the law firm of Bill Lowery. Lowery’s firm, under investigation in connection to earmarks secured by Jerry Lewis and the Duke Cunningham case, is one of the top donors to Calvert’s reelection committee. Calvert has been accused of earmarking funds around a piece of land that he owned and subesquently sold for a massive profit. In one year Calvert’s assets nearly doubled in worth from between $1.7 million and $3.65 million in 2004 to between $2.55 million and $5.25 million in 2005.
- [sw: Jerry Lewis] represents parts of the Inland Empire so why on earth do the cities and municipalities have to hire a lobbying firm to get funds from their congressman? The Los Angeles Times tries to answer the question and finds that nobody has a good answer. The Washington Post also digs deeper into the political action committee run by Julia Willis-Leon, Lewis’ step-daughter, and the funds she receives from clients of Letitia White and the Lowery law firm.
- House Armed Services Chairman [sw: Duncan Hunter] (R-Calif.) is making his earmark requests public, according to the Washington Post. Normally earmarks remain hidden in bills only to be discovered by those who find them odious. Hunter has decided that transparency is necessary to defend the practice. Transparency also allows me to point out that two of his earmarks are to one of his biggest campaign donors, Titan, Inc. For more information Hunter’s ties to Titan — a very controversial defense contractor — check out this blog post by Jason Vest at POGO.
That’s all for the on-going saga of the Pork Wars. Stay tuned for further developments.