CAGW Names Sen. Brian Schatz April Porker of the Month

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) named Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) its April Porker of the Month for being the only member of Congress shameless enough to brag about securing an earmark in CAGW’s 2016 Congressional Pig Book.

Sen. Schatz secured an earmark of $5.9 million for the East-West Center in his home state of Hawaii.  The center, which is intended to promote better relations with Pacific and Asian nations, was established in 1960 with no congressional hearings and over the State Department’s opposition.  For years, the State Department tried to eliminate the center by not requesting funding in its annual budget requests.

Former Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) was responsible for providing earmarks for the East-West Center until he passed away in 2013.  Sen. Schatz not only followed his predecessor’s lead by stepping up to the plate and earmarking funds for the center, he also openly bragged about his “achievement.”  In a December 17, 2015, press release, Sen. Schatz claimed credit for securing funding at a level $5.9 million above the administration’s request.  He also bloviated about a previous $5.9 million earmark in a June 19, 2014 press release, calling the funding, “great news for Hawaii.”

The East-West Center is similar to the North-South Center, which stopped receiving federal funding in 2001. An April 3, 2009, Congressional Research Service report stated, “Congress has not funded the North-South Center since FY 2001, noting that it should be funded by the private sector.”  Following that logic, the East-West Center should be funded by the private sector as well.  It probably would be, except that the center has long been located in the state of a Senate appropriator.  Since FY 1997, the center has received 13 earmarks totaling $121.5 million.

The 2016 Congressional Pig Book exposed 123 earmarks in FY 2016, which cost taxpayers $5.1 billion.  Since CAGW issued the first Pig Book in 1991, Congress has approved 110,442 earmarks costing taxpayers $323.1 billion. 

CAGW President Tom Schatz (no relation) said, “It takes a special kind of arrogance to be the only member of Congress to boast about frivolously spending the taxpayers’ hard-earned money.  The East-West Center should immediately stop receiving federal dollars, just as the North-South Center did in 2001.  The continued funding of the center is not ‘great news for Hawaii,’ as Sen. Schatz claimed.  It is simply another example of why earmarks should be permanently banned.” 

For his abuse of the budget process, waste of taxpayer money, and braggadocio, CAGW names Sen. Brian Schatz its April 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.

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