My Joe 6-Pack understanding of congressional earmarks goes something like this: Every member of congress is alloted a certain amount of federal funding that they can direct to projects of their choice without much congressional oversight, such as a vote specifically on the funding choices. This can be a good thing, since Keith Ellison probably knows better what his Minneapolis constituents need than Don Young of Alaska. Of course, it can be a bad thing if you’re represented by someone like Don Young of Alaska who’s been busy collecting campaign donations and setting aside earmarks for people he doesn’t politically (only financially) represent:
While the number of donors who got earmarks is hard to determine, an analysis of Young’s campaign finance reports show that beneficiaries of just seven earmarks with a total price of $259 million gave the veteran congressman at least $575,000. None of the projects was in Alaska.
Joe Bodell at Minnesota Campaign Report took at look at what Minnesota’s reps have been earmarking. For example, here’s what he found Ellison securing for:
Freshman Keith Ellison, representing Minneapolis and several of its suburbs, also issued several requests that were eventually included in the final spending bill. He co-sponsored the same $55 million for the Northstar Commuter Rail as Oberstar, and added to that $10.4 million for the Central Corridor Light Rail project (it will be interesting to see what the state legislature does with this project in the upcoming session). Only one of Ellison’s other earmarks (an army medical research project for Phygen Inc.) totaled more than $1 million, and all were focused on social services, public safety, and water infrastructure projects in and around Minneapolis.
So, what about this one: John Kline, who represents the southern part of the Twin Cities, decided that his district deserved none fo the money they were alloted. Are things really running that smoothly to the South?