CNN contacted the offices of all 435 House Members asking for lists of 2008 earmark requests members made–and just 31 provided them with lists. Seven said they'd requested no eamarks. That means 397 either said no (68 of them) or didn't respond (329). CNN provides a tool with the story for looking up lawmakers to see how they responded; it might have been easier for users if CNN had separately provided the lists or links to lists of earmarks that they did get. What's apparent is that the overwhelmeing majority of House members–both Democrats and Republicans–are not exactly racing to be transparent. CNN quotes one aide explaining his office's position:
"As long as we are not required to release them, we're not going to," said Dan Turner, an aide to Rep. Jim McCrery, R-Louisiana.
…all we needed was a yes-or-no answer from the representatives’ press secretaries. We figured we would spend no more than a few hours to make all the calls and get the information. Instead, we found ourselves getting the runaround, the D.C. equivalent of driving around Dupont Circle and passing the same Starbucks a hundred times. Every call we made was met with the same response, each with a slight variation: "The press secretary just stepped out; can I connect you to his voicemail?" "She's actually on her lunch break right now; would you like to leave a message?" "He's not here right now, would you like his voicemail?" And, our personal favorite, "Sorry, he's on vacation."
On vacation, out to lunch, we're not required to tell you how we plan to spend your money…Your Congress at work.