Unique Mashup of Earmarks, Campaign Contributions and Lobbying Expenditures Updated for Fiscal Year 2010

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Dave Levinthal, Center for Responsive Politics, 202-354-0111
Steve Ellis, Taxpayers for Common Sense, 202-546-8500

Center for Responsive Politics and Taxpayers for Common Sense

Unique Mashup of Earmarks, Campaign Contributions and Lobbying Expenditures Updated for Fiscal Year 2010

WASHINGTON - Two of
Washington, D.C.'s most reliable and respected nonpartisan
watchdogs
have once again joined forces, updating their one-of-a-kind,
comprehensive

database that links campaign contributions with earmarks
of
members of
Congress.

"This unique database
helps people investigate whether their elected officials
might be
doing special favors for special interests," said Sheila
Krumholz,
the executive director of the Center for Responsive
Politics.
"Taxpayer money requested for a lawmaker's friends or
supporters
represents a potential conflict of interest and warrants
further
scrutiny."

"This tool shines a light
on the current system where millions of dollars in campaign
contributions can turn into billions of earmarked tax
dollars," said
Ryan Alexander, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense.
"Funding
decisions must be based on project merit. With the nation
facing
enormous budget deficits, we cannot afford to waste a
dime."

Members of Congress use
"earmarks" to provide federal funding to companies,
projects, groups
and organizations, often in their district. The practice has
come
under intense criticism this year, with congressional
Democrats
banning earmark requests benefiting for-profit entities for
fiscal
year 2011 and congressional Republicans pushing their caucus
to
abstain from requesting earmarks
across-the-board.

Last fiscal year, however,
members of Congress obtained nearly 9,500 spending
provisions --
worth over $15.9 billion -- for organizations that spent
$269
million on lobbying, the Center for Responsive Politics and
Taxpayers for Common Sense found.

These members of Congress
also accepted more than $2.3 million from the political
action
committees and employees of the intended earmark
beneficiaries -- of
the $22.4 million these organizations donated to all federal

candidates and parties, the Center for Responsive Politics
and
Taxpayers for Common Sense
found.

User-friendly databases
available at OpenSecrets.org and Taxpayer.net now
provide detailed
information on the number and value of earmarks members of
Congress
have requested during fiscal years 2008 through 2010.

The joint effort also
showcases the data in a manner that is sortable in a variety
of
ways, including by House and Senate members, by recipients
that
lobby, by recipients with political action committees, by
state and
by
legislation.

Some members of Congress
don't request earmarks.

In fiscal year 2010, the
collection of lawmakers not making earmark requests included
several
notable names from both the Republican and Democratic
parties. Among
them? Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Sen. Claire McCaskill
(D-Mo.),
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Rep.
John
Boehner (R-Ohio) and Rep. Walter Minnick (D-Idaho).

On balance, Republicans
were more likely to forgo earmark requests than Democrats
last
fiscal
year.

The addition of fiscal
year 2010 information augments data from fiscal years 2008
and 2009,
which the watchdog groups released
last year
.

###

The Center for Responsive Politics is the nation's premier research group tracking money in federal politics and its effect on elections and public policy. The nonpartisan, nonprofit Center aims to create a more educated voter, an involved citizenry and a more responsive government. CRP's award-winning website, OpenSecrets.org, is the most comprehensive resource for federal campaign contributions, lobbying data and analysis available anywhere. CRP relies on support from a combination of foundation grants, individual contributions and income earned from custom research and licensing data for commercial use. The Center accepts no contributions from businesses, labor unions or trade associations.

Taxpayers for Common Sense is a nonpartisan budget watchdog serving as an independent voice for American taxpayers. The organization's mission is to achieve a government that spends taxpayer dollars responsibly and operates within its means. The group works with individuals, policymakers and the media to increase transparency, expose and eliminate wasteful and corrupt subsidies, earmarks, and corporate welfare, and hold decision makers accountable.

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