The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Murtha Named Porker of the Year

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


     After weeks of voting, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) announced the final results of its online poll for the 2007 Porker of the Year.  Rep. John “Jack” Murtha (D-Pa.) won in a landslide victory.  The veteran porker received 63.4 percent of the vote.  A distant second, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) received 10.6 percent, while Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) came in with 9.9 percent, Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) had 6.7 percent, and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.) both finished up with 4.1 percent.  The finalists were chosen by CAGW staff from among the 12 Porker of the Month winners for 2007.

     The balance tipped heavily in Murtha’s favor because of his richly-deserved reputation as a unabashed apologist for earmarks and his rhetorical pugilism.  Murtha is known to use of verbal threats, power plays, and backroom deals to garner pork for himself, reward his allies and cronies, and punish anyone who challenges him.   

     Murtha won the May 2007 Porker of the Month for throwing a temper tantrum and threatened his colleagues over a challenge to a $23 million earmark for the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) in Johnstown, Pa. in the Intelligence Authorization Act.  The project had been deemed “an expensive and duplicative use of scarce federal drug enforcement resources” by the House Government Reform Committee in 2006.  Rep. Murtha was infuriated by Rep. Mike Rogers’ (R-Mich.) motion to remove the NDIC earmark.  According to Rogers, Rep. Murtha warned, “I hope you don’t have any earmarks in the defense appropriations bills because they are gone and you will not get any earmarks now and forever. … That’s the way I do it!”  Rep. Murtha also threatened a Boeing project in Rep. Todd Tiahrt’s (R-Kan.) district after he voted with Rep. Rogers.

     In October 2007, when a CQ reporter complained (appropriately) about the difficulty of gleaning important earmark information from the obscure language used in appropriations bills, Rep. Murtha’s response was: “So, you have to work.  Tough [expletive].” 

     Recent news reports described an area of the House floor known as “Murtha’s Corner,” where the legendary porker dispenses earmarks.  In fiscal year 2008, he brought home 74 pork projects worth $159.2 million.

-- Alexa Moutevelis

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