, ,

Claire McCaskill has the soul of an auditor, as she has proven several times since arriving in the Senate.  The latest example is that she is upset with the continued “bad habit” of Congressmen who use earmarks for pet projects as a way to earn votes–everything from a teapot museum to “$480 million dollars for an alternate jet engine the military doesn’t want – but could provide jobs in certain Congressional districts.”

McCaskill points out that:

“I am one of 12 U.S. senators who’ve not requested earmarks.  One of only two Democrats.”

Earmarks increased tenfold while the Republicans controlled Congress, moving from about 1300 a year to 13,000 and amounting to $64 billion in 2005.  The biggest earmark spenders are still Republicans, but the Democrats, including their leaders, have been greedy too.  

Top Ten Senate Earmarkers*

Member Name

Earmark Total**

Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.


Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska


Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va.


Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii


Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill.


Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.


Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa


Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.


Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa.


Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.


Top Ten House Earmarkers*

Member Name

Earmark Total**

Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young, R-Fla.


Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa.


Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Calif.


Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md.


Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind.


Rep. David Obey, D-Wis.


Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash.


Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.


Rep. Dave Hobson, R-Ohio


Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Miss.


In fact, four big spenders, Republicans all, are currently under federal investigation for their spending practices:  Don Young, Ted Stevens, Jerry Lewis, and Alan Mollohan. Before you stick your thumbs in your suspenders and start pontificating about those dirty Republicans, though, consider  John Murtha:

Murtha’s earmarks include $2.4 million to a company that’s reportedly under federal investigation for diverting public funds.

Ouch.  Maybe it’s a good thing he was denied the number two position in the House.  On the other hand, Steny Hoyer did get the number two slot, and he’s also on the list, though not accused of anything illegal.

The only (sort of) bright spot is that congressmen used to be able to keep their earmarks anonymous, but the Democrats at least passed rules requiring earmarkers to own up to their boondoggles.

McCaskill hasn’t said what, if anything, she plans to do to remedy the situation–other than complain loudly.  I recommend she revive Senator Proxmire’s Golden Fleece Awards.