April 9, 2009

Earmark disclosure varies widely

After much public scorn for the earmark process, Congress decided to clean up its act and established new rules on earmarks. Lawmakers can no longer "airdrop" earmarks into legislation. They are also required to post links on their websites detailing earmarks they requested. The deadline for Representatives was April 4th.

How did our esteemed Representatives do?

"The only thing consistent among the various websites is inconsistency," said Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense. “Some lawmakers put a link to the disclosures right on the homepage, while others bury their requests under an electronic rock, forcing constituents to click through several pages under legislation, district initiatives, issues or some other general category.

The Hill does an excellent job of running through various House member's websites and seeing exactly how clearly they posted a link to their earmark requests. Taxpayers for Common Sense took it even farther and is keeping track of each House member in a spreadsheet.

Citizens should appreciate the efforts by those who followed both the letter and the spirit of the rules and did their best to clearly indicate their requested earmarks.

Fullest disclosures included those made by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) — who is a notorious earmarker — and even Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.), who as the last freshman Republican to be sworn in this year is arguably the lowest-ranking member of the House.

As we've mentioned before, Shelley Berkley and Dina Titus both have declared their earmark requests. Dean Heller, as of April 9th, 2009, has not. Senators have until the end of April to post their earmark requests.