Democrats can talk about cleaning this practice up, but, that is really about as far as it gets
Even as House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer has joined in steps to clean up pork-barrel spending, the Maryland congressman has tucked $96 million worth of pet projects into next year’s federal budget, including $450,000 for a campaign donor’s foundation.
Hoyer (D) is one of the top 10 earmarkers in the House for 2008, based on budget requests in bills so far, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, an independent watchdog group.
Hoyer defends his earmarks, saying they fund such worthy causes as cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay and supporting local military bases. For 2008, he has requested millions of dollars to equip police in his district, help schools and improve roads and the Southern Maryland bus network. His $96 million in earmarks includes projects he sponsored alone and with other legislators, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense.
Of course he does. Pretty much every Congress Critter who throws in an earmark defends them as vital, necessary, relevant, and essential. The problem is, while they tend to look good on the surface, such as cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay – a noble cause – they tend to funnel money to campaign donors and are often so pointed in how the money can be used that they rarely do what their stated purpose is. And, did I mention that they often go to private companies?
InTune Foundation Group, whose Web site describes it as a music-education nonprofit group, is looking to get $450,000 from Hoyer. I wonder why?
InTune director Eugene Maillard, his current and past In Tune associates and their families contributed at least $31,000 to Hoyer’s political action committee from 2004 to 2006, Federal Election Commission records show.
Certainly an earmark for the military is a good thing, right?
In the defense spending bill recently signed into law, the congressman won $2 million for a project begun in 2002 at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station. “The entity to receive funding for this project is ManTech Systems Engineering Corp.,” Hoyer wrote to the House Appropriations Committee.
That company is a subsidiary of ManTech International, whose executives and employees gave $12,100 to Hoyer’s 2005-06 congressional campaign, making them one of his top contributors that cycle, according to OpenSecrets.org, a nonpartisan Web site for campaign finance information.
This is what we get: money supposedly for the military, but that benefits a private corporation that just happened to give money to Hoyer. Shocking.
And, lest anyone think that I approve of Republicans doing this, think again. It is a bad practice that wastes taxpayer money in most cases But elected Republicans were not the ones who made a huge deal out of it during the last election cycle: Democrats were, and now they are still using lots of earmarks themselves.