Draining Pelosi’s swamp; Hoyer’s earmarks

Back before the 2006 election, Nancy Pelosi promised to “drain the swamp” in Congress, meaning she wanted to set the country and Congress on the right track again (or more accurately the “Left” track). The first thing she promised was to “break the link between lobbyists and legislation.” So how’s that working out?

Well, according to the Washington Post this morning, Steny Hoyer, Pelosi’s House Majority Leader has tucked in $96 million of his own earmarks in the latest budget;

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.

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$96 million. Important stuff, right?

Consider the $450,000 that Hoyer inserted into a 2008 education spending bill for the California-based InTune Foundation Group, whose Web site describes it as a music-education nonprofit group.

In 2005, InTune got a previous earmark for nearly $500,000 to develop lesson plans on funk music and Nobel Peace laureates. Asked recently how effective that program had been, Education Department officials said they didn’t know. InTune hadn’t turned in a report on what it did, officials said.

“It is significantly past due,” department spokeswoman Rebecca Neale said, noting that the deadline was September 2006. She said that the department had tried to reach InTune but that its old telephone and e-mail were out of service and there was no contact information on its Web site.

So they don’t report on how their money is spent and they’ve disconnected the phone and their email service – and Hoyer wants to give them another $1/2 million.

Told about InTune’s last grant, Hoyer replied: “If in fact they are not compliant with the requirements that the Department of Education has, they shouldn’t get the money” for the 2008 earmark. That money was in a bill vetoed by President Bush that probably will be part of the jumbo budget package this week.

Hoyer said he supported the foundation’s new request because “I thought it was a program that would be a positive program.” He said that he understood it would involve music education nationally and at the National Music Center in downtown Washington — “that’s how it was described to us.”

Maillard told The Post that InTune hadn’t decided exactly how to spend the 2008 earmark, although most of it would go to create youth programs at the National Music Center.

They don’t even know what they’re going to do with the money, but Hoyer’s going to give to them anyway. If this is draining a swamp, why are taxpayers still neck deep is slime?


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