Watchdogs Release Database Detailing Earmarks and Campaign Contributions

For Immediate Release

Center for Responsive Politics
Contact: 

Dave Levinthal, 202-354-0111 (CRP)
Steve Ellis, 202-546-8500 (TCS)

Watchdogs Release Database Detailing Earmarks and Campaign Contributions

WASHINGTON - Two of
Washington, D.C.'s most reliable and respected non-partisan
watchdogs joined forces today and released a comprehensive database
linking campaign contributions with earmarked spending by lawmakers.

Taxpayers for Common
Sense, a national budget watchdog, provided data documenting more
than 20,000 earmarked spending provisions worth over $35 billion.
The Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks money-in-politics
on its website, OpenSecrets.org, provided campaign contribution data
detailing $820 million worth of
contributions.

"At a minimum, earmarks
granted to lawmakers' friends and supporters merit scrutiny and
indicate potential conflicts of interest," said Sheila Krumholz,
Executive Director of the Center for Responsive Politics. "This
information will help Americans decide for themselves whether their
congressional representatives are beholden to the voters who elect
them -- or to elite interests bankrolling their
campaigns."

With the new
user-friendly tools that are available at www.opensecrets.org and www.taxpayer.net, the public can
see how much elected official secured in earmarked spending during
fiscal years 2008 and 2009. Citizens may then explore which entities
received the earmarked funding and whether -- and how much -- those
entities and their leaders contributed to the lawmaker's
campaign. Additionally, the underlying data sets
are available for download at each of the organizations' websites.

"Earmarks and
campaign contributions are part and parcel of the pay-to-play system
that permeates Washington," said Ryan Alexander, President of
Taxpayers for Common Sense. "Companies making thousands of dollars
in campaign contributions get millions of dollars of earmarked
taxpayer dollars from lawmakers."

In recent years,
corruption probes related to earmarks have increased, and earlier
this year, one prominent lobby shop shuttered operations following
an FBI raid. Taxpayers for Common Sense and the
Center for Responsive Politics intend to continue this partnership
and release additional data on FY2009 beneficiaries and related
campaign contributions and FY2010 earmarks and campaign
contributions when available.

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Celebrating our 25th anniversary in 2008, the Center for Responsive Politics is the nation's premier research group tracking money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy. Nonpartisan, independent and nonprofit, the organization aims to create a more educated voter, an involved citizenry and a more responsive government. In short, CRP's mission is to:

* Inform citizens about how money in politics affects their lives
* Empower voters and activists by providing unbiased information
* Advocate for a transparent and responsive government

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