CAGW Blasts Rep. Rooney’s Scheme to Resurrect Corruptive Earmarks

For Immediate Release Contact: Curtis Kalin 202-467-5318
September 30, 2016  

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) slammed Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) for his push to bring wasteful and corruptive earmarks back to Congress.

On September 26, 2016, Rep. Rooney proposed a new rule in the House of Representatives that would resurrect that practice, saying it was merely “a toe in the water.”  More distressing are the positive reactions the proposal garnered from Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), who called it, “thought-provoking and engaging,” and Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), who said, “I wish to goodness that would happen.”

It would seem these representatives have forgotten some critical hazards that were directly caused by this bygone practice.  Since 1991, CAGW has documented 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.  Despite the moratorium, earmarks are still percolating as lawmakers continue to engage in the practice behind closed doors and outside of public view.  CAGW documents this unseemly trend in the 2016 Congressional Pig Book, which cites 123 earmarks worth $5.1 billion.

CAGW 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; or giving a kickback to a campaign contributor; or used for ludicrous local ventures like the infamous teapot museum in North Carolina and the indoor rainforest in Iowa.

CAGW President Tom Schatz blasted Rep. Rooney and his colleagues:  “No member of Congress should dip their toe in the water when taxpayers own the lake.  Contrary to Rep. Rooney’s view, taxpayer money is not a lawmaker’s personal piggy bank, with dollars doled out as he or she sees fit, regardless of merit or importance.  Rep. Rooney’s appalling plan to bring back this clearly wasteful and corrupt practice should not be granted under any circumstances.  Taxpayers should make their voices heard and loudly oppose any return to the disgraced pork-barrel era.”

Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government. 

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