Two Faces of Earmarks
With the annual appropriations season slowly coming to life on the Hill, members of Congress are once again confronting more news stories about what has become a hot-button issue -- earmarks.
Wading through all the press releases in his inbox this morning, Capitol Briefing was struck by the starkly different ways two prominent House Democrats -- Reps. John Murtha (Pa.) and Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) -- are dealing with the media's scrutiny.
The first approach comes from Murtha, the chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on Defense who is known for his opposition to the Iraq war and, more famously, for his porking prowess. Republicans have been gleefully e-mailing transcripts and video of this CBS Evening News story that aired Friday night:
The CBS segment notes that Murtha has snagged more than $600 million in earmarks for his district in the last four years and more than $2 billion since 1992. The report also said that some of his earmarks have gone to questionable or possibly non-existent companies and that "every private entity" that got an earmark from Murtha gave him a campaign contribution.
None of that information is new; all of it has been reported before in one form or another. But the evening news is still seen by millions of viewers (even if CBS is in third place in the ratings), bringing the tale of Murtha's pork to lots of people who didn't know about it before. And most importantly, the segment says Murtha, who makes no apologies for earmarking and once derided an ethics reform bill as "total crap," declined to do an interview for the story (the segment shows Murtha's office door being closed in front of the CBS camera).
On to example two: In between GOP releases on the Murtha story, Capitol Briefing received this missive from Emanuel's office. Titled, "Emanuel Announces FY 2009 Earmark Requests," the release lays out all of the Democratic Caucus chairman's requests along with justifications for each one (though no specific dollar totals*), citing Emanuel's "personal effort to bring more transparency and accountability to the earmark process."
Now, these differing approaches don't mean that Murtha's earmarks are corrupt while Emanuel's are pure as the driven snow. Nor is Emanuel the only lawmaker to publicize his requests, since many members like to drum up good local press. But the contrast between the two illustrates that old-school members like Murtha are increasingly proving to be the exception to the rule. In the current media environment, it is getting tougher and tougher for lawmakers to keep their backroom dealings behind closed doors. Or off the evening news.
*UPDATE: Though this press release does not include specific dollar totals for Emanuel's earmark requests, his office is providing those numbers to reporters who ask for them.
Posted by: Patrick Huss | April 7, 2008 7:55 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Claudine | April 7, 2008 11:54 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Patrick Huss | April 8, 2008 12:49 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Sandy | April 8, 2008 7:29 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Patrick Huss | April 8, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Tony Rezko | April 8, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Sandy5274 | April 9, 2008 1:31 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: nightwing003 | April 9, 2008 8:17 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Sherry Kay | April 9, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Michael Chavers | April 9, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Sandra | April 9, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Ralphinphnx | April 9, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Sandy | April 9, 2008 11:47 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.