The Hill has come out with a piece listing some of those bought on sale to the highest contributors and we need to vote for politicians that will do away with this practice.
Rep. Jim Saxton (R-N.J.), ranking member of the Air and Land Forces defense subcommittee, reaped the most money from employees working at firms that would benefit from his funding requests.
Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-Ind.) requested $5.98 million for AmeriQual, a company based in his district, to develop high-pressure packaging for the military. Employees of AmeriQual contributed over $10,000 to his campaign during the first three months of this year. They gave around $5,000 in the 2006 election cycle.
Ellsworth also made four multimillion-dollar requests for companies that did not contribute to his political war chest.
Since January, Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) received 27 contributions totaling $7,500 from employees of Electric Boat, based in Groton, Conn. Courtney asked the leaders of his committee to authorize an additional $70 million for Electric Boat’s “Virginia Class” submarine program.
From Connecticut to California, lawmakers have requested millions for local employers and reaped political capital from grateful companies. Certain companies, such as Lockheed, L-3 and Raytheon, have enhanced political power because they have operations spread across the country. For example, lawmakers requested money for L-3 projects in San Diego, Anaheim, and Camden.
Since the beginning of 2005, Rep. Duncan Hunter (Calif.), the senior Republican on Armed Services, accepted $43,000 worth of contributions from the employees of companies benefiting from the earmarks he has requested.
John Dressendorfer, an executive at L-3, gave $4,100 to Hunter last year, while the company’s PAC donated $15,000, according to Political Money Line. This spring Hunter requested $67 million for L-3 to build weapons systems. The defense authorization bill passed by the House last month authorized $52 million for L-3’s program.
“Congressman Hunter has no expectations [of receiving funds] for doing what he believes is in the best interest of our nation,” said Hunter’s spokesman Joe Kasper. “He does what he thinks is right for the country, and if people agree with him and want to support him, that’s fine. If they don’t, that’s fine too.”
Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) requested $10.7 million for two companies located in Orange County: L-3 Communications and General Dynamics. Their corporate PACs gave a combined $4,500 to Sanchez this year and $10,500 during the last election cycle.
“The projects are wanted and supported by the [military] services and they’re Orange County projects,” said Paula Negrete, Sanchez’s spokeswoman.
Sanchez also received $11,900 in contributions from employees of PMA Group, a defense lobbying firm based in Arlington, Va., that represents L-3 and Lockheed.
Rep. Marty Meehan (D-Mass.) collected over $20,000 from employees at five firms he represented in funding requests to the Armed Services Committee. He also made requests on behalf of three companies that did not give him any money.
“Massachusetts provides our men and women in uniform with cutting-edge and lifesaving technologies,” said Meehan.
“That would not have been possible without federal investment. I am proud to work with many companies in the state that are doing important work for the Department of Defense and the warfighter.”
Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) requested $4 million for the advanced proteomics program at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Cooper received $19,000 in contributions from Vanderbilt employees since the start of the last election cycle — including $3,800 from the wife of the vice chancellor of health affairs.
Lets get serious here folks, our politicians from both sides of the aisle are being bought and sold and we, the American people are getting screwed because of it.
I do not want to see "transparency", I want to see this whole practice stopped dead in its tracks.
The number one reason listed at the exit polls in the November elections ws corruption, such as this, and despite repeated promises from the Democratic politicians, they are now doing the same thing.
It needs to stop.
Captain's Quarters has a great comment about this, as usual:
Others receive honorable mention from The Hill. They include Duncan Hunter, currently running for President, who got thousands from the employees of companies that received his earmarks. Loretta Sanchez got thousands from the corporate PACs of Orange County, CA companies that received her largesse, as well as thousands more from an employee group at a lobbying firm that represents defense contractors. Marty Meehan also got thousands from five companies that benefitted from his line-item approach to appropriations.
That's the entire problem. Instead of simply funding the Pentagon and allowing them to make the decisions on spending, Congress has allowed its members to specify the allocations themselves. That gives the appropriators very specific control on how the Pentagon operates, which in theory sounds great, but in practice gives politicians far too much power and creates an almost-irresistable impulse for corruption.
If earmarks were eliminated, the lobysists would not spend millions of dollars on re-election campaigns. It would make it a bit more difficult for incumbents to run for re-election, although not all that much more of a burden from their current 96% re-election rate. They would have little leverage over other members of Congress as well, who must kowtow to the appropriators in order to get their funding priorities addressed.
We know the problem. We need to elect representatives who want to eliminate it. So far, the Democrats have proven incapable of doing so, just as the Republicans did for the previous twelve years.
The only people that our politicians should be beholden to, are their voters and they would do well to remember that.
The Republicans lost the majority in Congress and the Senate because of corruption, and the Democrats will lose it for the same reason if they do not start addressing this problem and eliminating earmarks once and for all.