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Tag Archive: Earmark Watch

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

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One of Sunlight's resident creative geniuses (yes, there are many of them) have taken all the Defense Appropriations Earmarks and made them available for viewing within Google Earth. (You can only view this using Google Earth which you can download from this page.) The regular Google Maps version is available here.

And as they say: a picture really is worth a 1,000 words. One of our policy wonks loved the flight simulator that allows you to fly over earmark locations. It allows you to fly your choice of two aircraft anywhere around the globe, with custom layers visible from the aircraft. The simulator is hidden within the latest version of the program, and takes some getting used to controlling, but is certainly an entertaining way to experience the Earth's actual geography-and to educate yourself politically at the same time.

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A Lesson in How to Use EarmarkWatch.org

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The NYT ran a really good story on earmarks yesterday, using data from Taxpayers from Common Sense, the same data that's on EarmarkWatch.org.

Bloggers commenting on the NYT story are showing how they are using EarmarkWatch.org to investigate earmarks further.

For instance, blogger Susan Ohanian writes how she tracked Speaker Pelosi's earmarks, since she wasn't satisfied with the level of detail the Times presented in its article.

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Earmark of Aquarius Defeated

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Just got word, via Ed Frank of Americans for Prosperity, that an earmark to fund a museum near Woodstock that was requested by both Sen. Charles Schumer and Sen. Hillary Clinton. Columnist Robert Novak noted some campaign contributions in connection with the earmark, which promised $1 million to the Bethel Museum. Novak wrote,

Bethel typifies the earmark epidemic because political insiders are often found pushing pork. The museum is funded principally by billionaire Alan Gerry's foundation, which has annual investment income of $24 million. Federal Election Commission records show that Gerry has donated at least $229,000 to political campaigns, and his wife, Sandra, has contributed $90,000 over the past 10 years (including $26,000 in the last election cycle to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, headed by Schumer). On June 30, the Gerrys gave the maximum $9,200 to Clinton's presidential campaign, three days after the two New York senators put the Bethel earmark into the Labor-HHS bill.
Sen. Tom Coburn and Sen. Jon Kyl sponsored an amendment that diverted the funds from Bethel to the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant program. Incidentally, the Bethel Museum earmark is still up for grabs on EarmarkWatch.org, as are many others. The Earmark of Aquarius isn't the only sketchy one in there, and EarmarkWatch.org gives you the tools to find them.

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Following the Favor Factory

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There's more earmark money in Defense appropriations bills than anywhere else, and the members of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee have their hands on the spigots. Over at RealTime, Anu finds something surprising: While three members, Rep. John Murtha, Rep. Jim Moran and Rep. Pete Visclosky took in an average of more than $100,000 in political donations from employees and PACs of the companies to whom they directed earmarks in the first half of 2007, the remaining members averaged a paltry $12,800. Why the disparity? Will the contribution totals from earmark recipients to the campaigns of their benefactors increase when the Federal Election Commission receives the next round of disclosure reports? Are Murtha, Moran and Visclosky more beloved by their earmark recipients? Find out who gave to the politicians, who got the earmarks and what they were for. Anu relied on earmark data from EarmarkWatch.org (generously supplied by our partners, Taxpayers for Common Sense), campaign finance data from both the Center for Responsive Politics and the FEC.

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And the Earmark Winner for Ohio and Kentucky Is….

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The Cincinnati Enquirer shines  a light on the federal dollars hauled in by Greater Cincinnati's nine-member  House and Senate delegation. When it  comes to delivering the pork, the paper found that Sen. Mitch McConnell is the area's most powerful member. McConnell, a member of the Senate  Appropriations Committee, hauled in $391 million in federal funding for local  projects in budget bills being worked on in Congress, more than 1½ times the  amount that the area's other eight lawmakers got -- combined.

In a dramatic contrast, House Minority Leader John Boehner is a teetotaller. He doesn't believe in earmarks and hasn't asked for any money for local projects in the 13 spending bills that make up the federal budget.

The Enquirer built their own search engine that allows readers to search what earmarks local members have gotten in spending bills that are pending in Washington. Update: It bears mentioning that the database shows just how lousy the new Senate disclosure requirements on earmarks is. There are no company names. Just a general description of what the money should be spent on. The Enquirer writes about Earmark Watch, a joint project of Taxpayers for Common Sense and the Sunlight Foundation.

Kudos to The Enquirer. Hopefully more papers will do the same and start following what their congressional delegation is doing with our money.

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