Late last year, the Obama administration floated a draft Executive memo that would have brought transparency to the currently opaque earmark process. The document... View ArticleContinue reading
Leading by Example: Earmark Transparency
Due to the failure of Congress to act on President Obama's State of the Union call for a central database of earmarks, a number of NGOs had to build one from the disjointed and disparate disclosures on congressional websites. The database of earmark requests for 2011 was diligently compiled by WashingtonWatch.com, Taxpayers for Common Sense (both Sunlight grantees) and Taxpayers Against Earmarks. They had to troll through more than 39,000 requests sprinkled across congressional websites and deal with horrible data quality issues. As Daniel Schuman expanded on earlier this year, it ain't easy tracking earmarks.Continue reading
Loopholes already being sought for earmark ban
Some House Republicans are already looking for a way around the ban on earmarks imposed on the next Congress. These members are rapidly trying to come up with a new definition for earmarks, or directed spending, to skirt the ban. Politico reports, "[S]ome Republicans are discussing exemptions to the earmark ban, allowing transportation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and water projects. While transportation earmarks are probably the most notorious — think “Bridge to Nowhere” — there is talk about tweaking the very definition of “earmark.”Continue reading
McConnell endorses earmark moratorium
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, after stating his support for earmarks, has come out to back a moratorium on earmarks... View ArticleContinue reading
Transparency and the Earmark Moratorium
Presumptive Speaker Boehner has now come out in favor of a full earmark moratorium in the House. There will be... View ArticleContinue reading
Baby Steps on the Earmark Transparency Act
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee voted out S. 3335, the Earmark Transparency Act today, but not without... View ArticleContinue reading
Rethinking Advocacy Email
Email is an incredible tool for many things, but it's also *not* a very good way to communicate for much of what we tend to use it for. And on top of that, we all just get so darned many! Reading email often seems more a nuisance than an opportunity to many (most?) people. And that's a shame. In fact, it's an outright "problem" if your job is to engage both current and potential supporters in your cause, because email is still considered the primary outreach channel for most organizations.Continue reading
Earmark transparency still makes more sense than a ban
The Sunlight Foundation recently sent a letter seeking cosponsors for H.R. 5258 and S. 3335, both known as the Earmark... View ArticleContinue reading
Sunlight Labs weighs in on Earmark bill
In yesterday’s Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs meeting, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said that portions of the bill were far too complex and were not able to be aggregated.
Not so, said Sunlight Foundation’s Web Developer Kaitlin Lee.
“If they’re already taking earmark request digitally, then have a database engineer on staff export the data tables,” Lee said.
“Senator Levin might think it’s a huge data curation process or a manual process. But if it’s already electronic, then a database engineer can write a programming script to do it. It’s a ...
Levin and Coburn, toe to toe on Earmark Transparency Bill
A Senate committee’s planned markup of an Earmark Transparency Bill was postponed until July after the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs briefly debated the bill this afternoon.
Though there was not enough committee members present to mark up the bill, that didn’t stop Senator Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., from having a back-and-forth on the issue.
Levin said the bill could conflict with existing rules on Senate earmarks and said that aggregating thousands of earmark requests on a website would be burdensome and unworkable.
Coburn introduced the bill, S.3335, last month ...