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Tag Archive: Seattle Times

Earmarks Now a Danger to Troops

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In what must be the most bizarre tale of earmarking I've ever heard the Oregonian is reporting that the T-shirts purchased for Marines through a $2 million earmark have been banned because they "can melt, causing severe burns." Rep. David Wu, the member who inserted the earmark is "horrified". This information has come out due to the excellent database set up by the Seattle Times.

Wu also is "horrified" that journalists and others would connect the earmarks he distributed to the campaign contributions he received. Now perhaps, if given a huge benefit of the doubt, Wu was attempting to get a contract to a district based business to do this kind of work. You know, the typical "help out the district" work that members of Congress are supposed to do. Even if we assume that, this example clearly shows that earmarking is not an efficient way of doling out important contracts. Maybe if there was some kind of competitive bidding or review process we wouldn't have Marines getting "severe burns" from their own melting clothes.

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Seattle Times Creates Earmark, Political Contributions and Lobbying Database

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Sunlight's Real Time Investigations' Project has done partial investigations into the connections between earmark recipients and their political contributions, but the Seattle Times has launched a database of 2007 defense earmarks for every member of Congress compared to the political contributions they received from the recipients of those earmarks. They also included how much was spent on lobbying by the recipients. (The campaign finance information only goes back six years. It's unclear what period the lobbying money covers.) You can search by lawmaker's name or by the name of a company or nonprofit that got the earmark. You can also browse lawmakers or earmark recipients by state. (Click on the corporate names for the information on how much was spent on lobbying.)

The reporters were able to tie only about half of the 2,700 earmarks in the 2007 defense spending bill to members of Congress. And they included only items Congress funded that the military did not ask for. Even so, they found some 45,000 matches.

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