Another Democrat playing games with earmarks
Rep. Joe Sestak, a candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, and Sen. Blanche Lincoln aren’t the only Democrat playing games with earmarks. Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) is ignoring the rules of the Senate Appropriations Committee and pretty much doing whatever he wants when it comes to disclosure of his earmark requests, according to Washington Watch:
Take a look at Senator Bingaman’s earmark requests [ugly PDF image] for the Energy & Water appropriations bill. It’s a day-late, dollar-short disaster! (Bingaman’s disclosures for other approps bills are collected here.)
Take one funding request, identified only as “Central NM 593.”
The location of the project is “Bernalillo, Valencia, and SandovaNM1 [sic] Counties.”
Its purpose and benefit to taxpayers? Just two words: “Water Supply.”
Nowhere does Senator Bingaman say who will receive the money. It’s something taxpayers might like to know, and the Senate Appropriations Committee requires its disclosure.
Based on that justification, Senator Bingaman got a million dollar payout. A million dollars for a two word justification!
Senator Bingaman’s disclosure for the Energy & Water approps bill is just three pages long. Three pages cover 65 earmark requests, adding up to over half a billion dollars (—and eight percent of something…). Can a half-billion dollars in spending be justified in under three pages?
This should have gotten a “Stop—Do Not Pass Go—Do Not Collect $200″ from the Senate Appropriations Committee. He obviously flouted their rules, denying the public visibility into his earmark requests as the committee required.
But Senator Bingaman got fourteen earmarks in the Energy & Water bill worth over $16 million dollars. Sixteen million for three uninformative pages.
This is transparency done wrong.
When Democrats took control of Congress in 2006, Americans were promised the most open and transparent government ever. While the number of earmarks in appropriations bills have dropped off since Democrats have taken control, corruption in Congress is as present as ever and the earmark process, which does not receive any daylight, is an example of it.
And while Republicans have a great opportunity to seize this issue, they are showing signs that they will return to the ways of old.