Lawmakers Skirt New Earmark Disclosure Rule
APRIL 08, 2009
To meet a new transparency rule members of Congress had until this week to post details of earmark requests on their official websites but many have failed to abide and others have hidden the information in obscure places that disregard the law’s spirit.
A congressional newspaper reviewed hundreds of U.S. House member web sites and reports that scores of lawmakers—both Democrat and Republican—have taken great measures to conceal the information while technically complying with the letter of the law. Others have simply ignored it all together.
The measure, promoted by Democrats and President Barack Obama as a crucial step toward opening the often secretive earmarking system, requires lawmakers to create an active link on their web pages disclosing their 2010 spending requests.
Some members have prominently displayed their pork requests while many have gone out of their way to keep them from the public. More than 70 representatives completely blew off the rule by failing to establish their links or creating links that are virtually impossible to locate.
Among the worst offenders are New York Democrats Jose Serrano, Joseph Crowley and Nita Lowey, Ohio Republican Steven LaTourette and Kentucky Republican Hal Rogers. Besides posting the information in hard-to-find sub pages, some disguised the category with terms like “funding requests” and “economic development and job creation.”
Some lawmakers did a great job displaying the information by creating new, easily accessible categories on their home menus. They include New York Democrat Charles Rangel (chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee), South Carolina Democrat James Clyburn, Pennsylvania Democrat John Murtha and Pennsylvania Republican Glenn Thompson.
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