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Congressman Cleaver and His Earmarks (UPDATED)

Remember that $48 billion earmark request from Congressman Emanuel Cleaver we told you about last week?

The Congressman’s hometown paper has taken notice notice, and they’re not happy.

From the Southeast Missourian:

Rep. Cleaver has proposed a $48 billion earmark

When absurdity gives way to hilarity, you must be talking about politics.

In the midst of a colossal global concern for the economic stability of our great nation, Emanuel Cleaver, Missouri’s 5th Congressional District representative, has one small earmark on his wish list that deserves some attention.

Cleaver has listed a new earmark — one of several — and he promises to “fight for every one.” But this is a whopping $48 billion package that must go down as the grandaddy of all earmarks.

For perspective, $48 billion is around the amount of money that will be spent this year on the entire National Intelligence Program.

UPDATE: Taxpayers Against Earmarks has now confirmed that the Congressman DID NOT REQUEST the earmark.

In fact, the Congressman’s office believes it is an example of how the earmark process worked — because the Congressman vetted the request, and refused to submit it to the House Appropriations Committee. We applaud the Congressman for rejecting the aptly-named “grandaddy of all earmarks.”

That said, we also learned that Congressman Cleaver did obtain 16 earmarks, worth approximately $17 million, in the massive “omnibus” appropriations bill being considered in the Senate right now — and we are working hard to defeat the bill.

For a little more background information… We had noted in our press release, before the joint earmark request database was announced, that we tried but could not confirm whether the Congressman had actually requested the $48 billion earmark, or whether it was simply requested of his office.

As the Wall Street Journal reports, Congressman Cleaver is one of three House Democrats (the others are Rep. Marcia Fudge and Rep. Carolyn Cheeck Kilpatrick) that “post details of all the earmarks requested by constitutents,” but don’t “say which ones they actually sought.” You can understand the confusion.

We appreciate Rep. Cleaver had the good sense to not actually put this forward. This is just one example of the confusion surrounding federal spending – and reiterates our call for reform.

Earmarkers Gone Wild

Today at Human Events, Brian Darling is promoting our new map of 2011 earmark requests:

“… Maine is a great case study to see what members are requesting. Taxpayers Against Earmarks reports that Sen. Susan Collins (R) requested $453,264,250 and Sen. Olympia Snow (R) requested $594,513,000 for this year alone. Sen. Collins requested $5,000,000 to build a pedestrian/bicycle bridge connecting Bayside to Portland. Not to be outdone, Sen. Snowe requested $7,000,000 for the University of Maine for a “Wood Utilization Program” to study “university-based wood utilization research.” None of these programs are a proper function of the federal government.”

To read his full column in today’s web version of Human Events, follow this link.

Will an Appropriations Investigations Subcommittee Reform Earmarks?

Heritage’s Rob Bluey thinks so in this op-ed in today’s Politico.

An excerpt:

Eliminating outdated and ineffective programs, as well as ending waste, fraud and abuse, could save the government billions. The problem is that members of Congress, beholden to certain constituencies, often stand in the way of spending cuts. This must end.

One way to approach it is to revamp the appropriations process, an idea already being discussed by Speaker-elect John Boehner (R-Ohio). Creating an investigations subcommittee could also free up existing appropriations subcommittees to focus on drafting better — and less costly — spending bills.

The idea is appealing– a sworn cadre of anti-waste vigilantes declaring war on wasteful spending…

Okay, it isn’t that romantic, but it is absolutely necessary. The lack of oversight in Congress has been a prime contributor to the corruption and waste evident in earmarks for decades. Here’s hoping Speaker Boehner and the next Congress continue to make good on their promises and move to put adults in the room when determining where to spend our hard-earned cash.

Three Organizations Launch Comprehensive Earmark Request Database

Taxpayers Against Earmarks, & Taxpayers for Common Sense
Launch Comprehensive Earmark Request Database

Brian Baker
Taxpayers Against Earmarks
(202) 688-1880

Steve Ellis
Taxpayers for Common Sense
(202) 546-8500 x126

Jim Harper

Washington, DC — Three leading government transparency advocacy groups – Taxpayers Against Earmarks, and Taxpayers for Common Sense – today launched the first comprehensive database of more than 39,000 congressional earmark requests submitted for 2011 totaling $130 billion. The database is available online at,, and

“Even though some members of Congress insisted that it was technologically impossible or would cost too much to create an earmark requests database, our three groups were able to build a database in less than six months for less than $100,000,” said Stephanie Mesick, Director of Research and Outreach for Taxpayers Against Earmarks. “This database allows voters to review all earmark requests in one central place. Given the Senate’s failure to follow the House of Representatives in passing an earmark moratorium, the earmark request database is needed now more than ever to hold Members’ feet to the fire before their earmarks are considered and approved.”

“With this database, the American people will finally be able to sift through the tens of thousands of requests seeking $130 billion,” said Ryan Alexander, President of Taxpayers for Common Sense. “Lawmakers literally signed on the dotted line that these requests represented a good investment of taxpayer dollars. Now the public can investigate and see if they agree with their elected officials.”

The earmark request database, a joint project of Taxpayers Against Earmarks,, and Taxpayers for Common Sense, lists all earmark requests made for fiscal year 2011 by each Member of Congress. This comprehensive database would help fulfill what President Obama called for in his 2010 State of the Union Address and what leading members of Congress have been trying to create for the past year. Congress is currently considering the Earmark Transparency Act (S. 3335, introduced by Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and H.R. 5258, introduced by Reps. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Jackie Speier (D-CA)).

“Transparency is going to remake Washington, D.C., and earmark transparency is just the start,” said Jim Harper, Webmaster of “With the information we’re providing the public, we’re delivering control of the government back to the people.” On the earmark page, visitors are invited to investigate and comment on earmarks for their local areas.

Summary information about the Congressional earmark requests for fiscal year 2011 is available here.

About Taxpayers Against Earmarks: Taxpayers Against Earmarks, Inc. is a non-partisan organization dedicated to educating and engaging American taxpayers about wasteful government spending and the misguided practice of earmarks. The founder and chairman of Taxpayers Against Earmarks is Joe Ricketts, the founder of Ameritrade. For more information, visit

About Government transparency web site uses government predictions about the costs or savings from proposed laws to calculate the significance to average Americans — in dollars and cents — of proposed changes to the nation’s policies. Many of’s 1.3 million yearly visitors express their opinions by voting and debating the issues in comment forums from every bill in Congress.

About Taxpayers for Common Sense: Taxpayers for Common Sense is an independent and non-partisan voice for taxpayers working to increase transparency and expose and eliminate wasteful and corrupt subsidies, earmarks, and corporate welfare. For more information, visit

How much pork is your Member requesting? Find out now!

The 2011 Earmark Request Database Is Here!

We promised that we’d be watching Congress — and we are.

In the culmination of an almost-year long project — jointly administered by Taxpayers Against Earmarks, Taxpayers for Common Sense and — all 39,294 earmark requests submitted by Members of Congress this year are now available for review by the American people. As Manu Raju notes in Politico, the “first-of-its-kind analysis” reveals that the politicians in Congress are proposing to spend “eye-popping” number of our tax dollars on special-interest earmarks.

Read the analysis here.

And if you are shocked by the number and dollar amount of the earmarks requested this year, imagine this possible earmark request: $48 billion from Congressman Emanuel Cleaver for Quality Day Campus, Inc., an ambiguous organization in Kansas City whose only presence on the web is on MySpace! Even more, by navigating to page 25 of this list of appropriations requests from Congressman Cleaver’s office, you’ll find that the request was actually too large to fit in the provided space! We excluded this dollar amount from the database because the Congressman’s office would not confirm that he actually submitted this as an official request to the House Appropriations Committee. According to Cleaver’s request list, the $48 billion is only for phase one of the mysterious project. We’ll wait with bated breath for phase two, which is rumored to include funds for, you know, the construction of an actual website.

This was a monumental task and we thank our friends and colleagues at Taxpayers for Common Sense and for a job well done.

Now it is up to you to tell Congress what you think of these requests.

Senate Rejects Full Earmark Ban

On November 30, 2010, the Senate rejected a bipartisan amendment offered by Senators Coburn and McCaskill to ban earmarks for three years (2010-2012).

These 39 Senators heard the message from the American people to stop reckless spending:

Alexander (R-TN)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bayh (D-IN)
Bennet (D-CO)
Brown (R-MA)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Feingold (D-WI)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Kirk (R-IL)
Kyl (R-AZ)
LeMieux (R-FL)
McCain (R-AZ)
McCaskill (D-MO)
McConnell (R-KY)
Nelson (D-FL)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Snowe (R-ME)
Thune (R-SD)
Udall (D-CO)
Vitter (R-LA)
Warner (D-VA)
Wicker (R-MS)

The rest didn’t. Let them hear from you here!

Cato Expert Deconstructs WaPo Earmarks Defense

When a former Reagan staffer writes a gushing defense of earmarks in the Washington Post, advocates of the Gipper’s vision of smaller and more accountable government understandably scratch their heads. Why would Mark Greenberg, a former Special Assistant to President Reagan, encourage a wasteful and corrupt practice that is bankrupting taxpayers? Well, as Cato Economist Daniel Mitchell points out, Mr. Greenberg is now a lobbyist:

Last but not least, earmarks are utterly corrupt. The fact that they are legal does not change the fact that they finance a racket featuring big payoffs to special interests, who give big fees to lobbyists (often former staffers and Members), who give big contributions to politicians. Everyone wins…except taxpayers.

You can read the rest of Dr. Mitchell’s response here. At TAE, we know that ending earmarks isn’t easy–with entrenched interests like Mr. Greenberg fighting for their political lives, we’ve got a long way to go to. But, if our recent successes are any indication, we’re well on our way.

TAE to Washington: Ending Earmarks Isn’t Complicated

This is a big day. The Senate Republican Conference voted behind closed doors to eliminate Republican requests for earmarks in the 112th Congress! Your phone calls and emails to those Senators and Senators-Elect who had not yet gone on the record about how they would vote helped turn up the pressure and ensure that our officials heard the American people loud and clear. You can read more details here. (Sen. Jim DeMint says the vote passed nearly unanimously; click here to read about one stubborn hooligan who may buck his colleagues’ decision in the future.)

This is cause for celebration – yes – but our work is not yet done. The earmark ban is not legally binding, and only applies to the Republican Senators. It’s a great beginning, but only that: a first step. Taxpayers Against Earmarks’ leadership today outlined a simple path to eliminating earmarks as we know them. TAE founder and chairman, Joe Ricketts, and president, Brian Baker, explain:

The voters sent a clear message to stop reckless spending. Yet the earmarking system that perpetuates the power of incumbency, fosters a culture of dependency on the government, and produced the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere” and influence-peddling scandals that sent many to prison, still exists. Washington keeps borrowing and spending money we don’t have on things we don’t need.

But there is now a unique opportunity to make changes: Our Democratic president and soon-to-be Republican-led House agree that it is time to end the corrupting and wasteful practice of earmarks.

President Barack Obama, in his post-election “mea culpa,” affirmed that he is “a strong believer that the earmarking process in Congress isn’t what the American people want to see when it comes to making tough decisions about how taxpayer dollars are spent.”

Read their full commentary at, and be sure to post your comments below. Now that the Senate Republicans have passed the ban, might the Senate Democrats, under the leadership of Taxpayer Hero Sen. Claire McCaskill, follow suit? Do you think Obama is serious about his commitment against earmarks? Join the discussion now!

TAE Applauds Leader McConnell’s Decision

Taxpayers Against Earmarks Applauds Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s Decision in Support of Earmark Moratorium

November 15, 2010 – Statement by Taxpayers Against Eamarks president Brian Baker on the actions by House and Senate Republicans in favor of a two-year earmark moratorium:

“We welcome and applaud Senator Mitch McConnell’s statement that he will vote for a two-year earmark moratorium. This moratorium will afford Congress the opportunity to fix the broken Congressional budget and appropriations process. The moratorium is not mere symbolism — it will help save the American peoples’ hard-earned money.

“Taxpayers Against Earmarks now calls on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to commit his caucus to passing an immediate ban on all earmarks.

“Just as Taxpayers Against Earmarks has called out the earmark ‘hooligans,’ we must recognize the ‘heroes’ in this fight against wasteful government spending. We congratulate long-time anti-earmark crusaders Congressman Jeff Flake and Senators John McCain, Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn.

“The path towards reform was long and complicated. Earlier this year, House Democrats announced a ban on earmarks to for-profit companies and then the House Republican Conference passed a one-year moratorium. The first signs that business in Washington was really going to change for good came right before the election when Eric Cantor called for extending the earmark moratorium and applying it to the entire of House of Representatives, saying that earmarks have served as the ‘fuel line’ for out-of-control spending. Immediately after the election, presumptive Speaker John Boehner, who has never taken an earmark and believes that those who request earmarks ‘rob the public treasury,’ announced that he would put the power of the Speakership towards an earmark moratorium in the House in an effort to ‘end business as usual in the spending process.’

“The next stop is the Senate Republican Conference, which will vote tomorrow. We at Taxpayers Against Earmarks believe there is a spot on our ‘Heroes’ list for everyone, and are delighted the DeMint-Coburn moratorium resolution will likely pass with Senator McConnell’s support.’

“We hope this will be a great victory for the hard-working taxpayers in America who let their voices be heard. We are heartened that our elected leaders are finally beginning to listen.”


November 8, Washington, D.C. – The non-partisan “Taxpayers Against Earmarks”today called on leadership in the House and Senate to appoint only members to the Appropriations Committees who have sworn to ban earmarks.

“The American people are fed up with the massive federal debt, out-of-control spending and the broken budgeting process in Washington,” said Brian Baker, president of Taxpayers Against Earmarks.

“While Reps. Boehner and Cantor have heard the voters say they want a change in the way Washington spends their money and have agreed to extend the earmark moratorium for the next two years, the first test of their leadership will be who is appointed to lead the House Appropriations Committee,” Baker said. “The appointment of a reform-minded chair, along with members like Rep. Jeff Flake, will demonstrate to the American people that the new House leaders are serious about reform.”

“We also implore Senators McConnell and Reid to follow the lead of their colleagues and pass an earmark ban in the Senate.

“But we aren’t waiting for the new Congress to demand change, as we will immediately hold Members’ feet to the fire on earmarks as the lame duck session of Congress begins,” Baker said. “There will be zero tolerance for any earmarks that pass during the upcoming lame duck session.

“This election was based in large part on the American peoples’ frustration with the big-spending ways of Washington and the corrupt practice of earmarking. We want to make sure that Congress doesn’t act like a drunk headed to rehab when it comes to earmarks during the lame duck, and take their last big drink before the ‘earmark favor factory’ closes for good.”

Last Tuesday, over 50 politicians who were on the Taxpayers Against Earmarks “Hooligans” list were defeated. The website lists each Member as a “Hero” or “Hooligan,” based on whether that Member has requested earmarks this year, and contains an action center connecting taxpayers with their elected officials.

Earmarks are provisions inserted into federal spending bills allocating taxpayer money for a specific project, program, or organization, circumventing a merit-based or competitive allocation process. Earmarks provide federal funding for projects benefiting only a state or local interest, or a private company, university or non-profit.

Taxpayers Connected:

Our national debt is  
$ 00 00 , 000 000 , 000 000 , 000 000 , 000 000
and each American Taxpayer owes $119,236 of it.