I am reblogging Zephyr Teachout’s post from the Sunlight Foundation blog in its entirety here. An excellent combination of smartmobby group investigatory journalism and direct political action — nonpartisan, at that. This is about those porky amendments that legislators tack onto unrelated bills — “earmarks.” One of the key pathogens in the sickness that has corrupted Congress:
Whether you’re a blogger, a curious citizen, a citizen journalist, a muckraker, or a journalist, we need your help.
There are more than 1,800 earmarks in the 2007 appropriations bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (see the map). That’s over 1,800 appropriations that have never been publicly debated — and probably never will be — and we don’t even know where they came from.
An earmark is a line-item that is inserted into a bill to direct funds to a specific project or recipient without any public hearing or review. (Read the Earmarks FAQ.)
The Sunlight Foundation along with Citizens Against Government Waste, Porkbusters.com, Human Events Online, Club for Growth, the Heritage Foundation, and the Examiner Newspapers, have pulled together a database of the earmarks. We’re all asking you to help make sense of the information (if you’ve got alot of time, here are a bunch of questions to ask of the earmarks).
Check out our interactive map of the earmarks put together by the Sunlight Labs, and you’ll see there are gaps in the data. Where do these earmarks come from? Which earmark comes from which Member of Congress? Is your Member of Congress responsible for any of these? Take 10 minutes to call your Lawmakers office and find out whether any of the Labor HHS earmarks come from his/her office, and then come back to this blog post and report it. Thanks!