By CAGW, Special for USDR
Today, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) named Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) its July Porker of the Month for her reckless push to bring back wasteful and corruptive earmarks.
At her last Senate Appropriations Committee markup, the retiring Sen. Mikulski uncorked a stem-winding defense of the thoroughly disgraced practice of earmarking. “If I could say one thing to all of you: Bring back congressionally directed projects,” she said, “I loved the earmarks I could do!” Sen. Mikulski employed the same tired defense of pork-barrel behavior: using taxpayer dollars for local projects would “grease the wheels” for large and often controversial spending bills.
According to CAGW’s seven-point criteria, pork-barrel projects are funded for a specific purpose in circumvention of normal budget procedures. Since 1991, Congress has approved 110,442 earmarks costing taxpayers $323.1 billion. After high-profile boondoggles such as the Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska, and a decade of scandals that resulted in jail terms for Reps. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-Calif.) and Bob Ney (R-Ohio), and lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Congress declared a moratorium on earmarks in 2011. However, as documented in CAGW’s 2016 Congressional Pig Book, earmarks are making an unwelcome comeback as lawmakers are engaging in the practice behind closed doors and outside of public view.
CAGW has chronicled the litany of scandals and conflicts of interest that arose in the era of profligate earmarking. Often, pork projects were directed for selfish personal political reasons, such as repaving a specific road next to a representative’s home; used as a kickback to a campaign contributor; or directed toward ludicrous local ventures like the infamous teapot museum in South Carolina and the indoor rainforest in Iowa.
Contrary to Sen. Mikulski’s view, taxpayer money is not a lawmaker’s personal piggy bank, with dollars doled out to anyone he or she sees fit, regardless of merit or importance. Sen. Mikulski’s retirement wish to bring back this clearly wasteful and corrupt practice should not be granted under any circumstances.
For publicly calling for a return of pork-barrel earmarks, following her long career of diverting more than $620 million in earmarks to her state, CAGW names Sen. Barbara Mikulski its July Porker of the Month.
Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government. Porker of the Month is a dubious honor given to lawmakers, government officials, and political candidates who have shown a blatant disregard for the interests of taxpayers.