Harris out to clean up earmarks

Yes, I got the same press release other outlets did. I’m guessing eight blogs got them because Andy links to eight blogs on his site (including monoblogue and RedMaryland). But here’s what the Harris campaign has to say:

Harris Calls on Gilchrest to Join Republican Efforts to Clean Up Earmark Process

After watching Democrats add billions of dollars in wasteful pork-barrel government spending in the form of earmarks to appropriations bills in recent months, Andy Harris today called on Wayne Gilchrest to join the House Republican leadership in their attempts to clean up earmarks. “Earmarks waste taxpayer dollars and breed corruption in government.” said Harris. “To clean up Washington, we must first reform the earmark process, with the goal of eventually eliminating them.”

Republican Minority Leader John Boehner introduced H. Res. 559, which would require consideration by the House of H. Res. 479. H. Res. 479 would require all earmarks to be clearly disclosed regardless of where they are found. “H. Res. 479 is the first salvo of the process to end earmarks. By shedding daylight on all earmarks, it gives Americans a chance to see just how corrupt earmarks like the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ have become. And when they see, they will demand an end to earmarks,” Harris added.

At the time of this release, 142 Republican members of Congress have signed the discharge petition, but not Wayne Gilchrest. “By not pursuing action to stop the backroom ‘earmarks’ process, Gilchrest is showing he supports the Democrat status quo,” said Chris Meekins, Political Director for the campaign.

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An article in Roll Call on September 19, 2007 titled “Mr. Murtha’s Money” explains the dirty side of earmarks. The article uncovered that Representative Murtha received campaign donations from EVERY ONE of the companies receiving earmarks he placed into bills. Murtha received over $410,000 in campaign contributions from the PACs and employees of the companies receiving the earmarks he placed into legislation.

“Apparently Gilchrest sees no problem with Congressmen blatantly using the earmark process to bolster their campaign coffers,” said Meekins. “We sent Wayne to change Washington, but with his opposition to REAL earmark reform, it is obvious that Washington changed Wayne.”

“If elected to Congress, I will support real earmark reforms, and work to end earmarks althogether. If the government has enough money to waste on pork-barrel earmark spending, the government simply has too much money,” Harris said. (Editor note: links added to original.)

One item in the release that can be questioned by Congressman Gilchrest and his supporters is the implication of using Murtha’s PAC money as an example in the release. The campaign finance site opensecrets.org shows that typically Gilchrest receives 1% or less of his money from political action committees. (I haven’t seen data yet on the 2008 campaign but it’s probably similar.)

And honestly, even if Andy is elected it would be an uphill battle to enact true earmark reform as the vast majority of the electorate looks to their Congressman and says, “what can you get us in our district?” It’s almost like we need about 250 Republican Study Committee types (just in the House, plus 60 Senators) who want to stop earmarks before anything could be done, with Democrats still kicking and screaming about it even afterward. While I think Harris would be a good Congressman (moreso than the incumbent) we have to look toward instilling a sea change in attitude through education as part of the process, too.

Crossposted on monoblogue.

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