No, Senator Durbin, Earmarks are Not Transparent
This morning the full Senate voted down a proposed rule that would have barred earmarks for the next two years. Part of the reason? Earmarks are transparent.
Here’s Senator Durbin, quoted in a Hill article:
“There is full disclosure in my office of every single request for an appropriation. We then ask those who have made the requests to have a full disclaimer of their involvement in the appropriation, so it’s there for the public record. This kind of transparency is virtually unprecedented.”
Take a look at Senator Durbin’s earmark disclosures. Yes, you can read through them, one by one. But can you make a list of recipients? Can you add up the totals? Can you search for common words in the brief explanations for each earmark? Can you make a map showing where recipients of Senator Durbin’s requests are?
No, no, no, and no.
That’s because Senator Durbin puts his request disclosure out as scanned PDFs. Someone on his staff takes a letter and puts it on a scanner, making a PDF document of the image. It’s totally useless if you want to use the data for anything. Notably, he doesn’t even include the addresses of his earmark recipients.
Last year, WashingtonWatch.com’s visitors laboriously took earmark disclosures like Senator Durbin’s and gathered the data from them. Now—because of their work—you can see a map of Illinois earmarks and the list of Senator Durbin’s requests for FY 2010.
Early this year, President Obama called for “a comprehensive, bipartisan, state-of-the-art disclosure database that allows Americans to examine the details of every proposed earmark before a vote is taken.” He wasn’t talking about WashingtonWatch.com—he was talking about Congress putting this database together.
Earlier this year, we worked with a small group of transparency activists to show Congress how to do earmark transparency. Earmarkdata.org has our earmark data schema—the guide to producing earmark information in a way the public can use. (Please sign the petition supporting earmark transparency.)
No, Senator Durbin, your earmarks are not transparent. We’re producing the state-of-the-art database. We’re setting the precedent for transparency. Your PDF-image disclosures are a day late and a dollar short.
Below are the votes on the earmark moratorium taken in the Senate this morning. A “No” vote supports continuation of earmarking. A “Yes” vote is opposed to earmarking.
|Alabama:||Sessions (R-AL), Yea||Shelby (R-AL), Nay|
|Alaska:||Begich (D-AK), Nay||Murkowski (R-AK), Nay|
|Arizona:||Kyl (R-AZ), Yea||McCain (R-AZ), Yea|
|Arkansas:||Lincoln (D-AR), Nay||Pryor (D-AR), Nay|
|California:||Boxer (D-CA), Not Voting||Feinstein (D-CA), Nay|
|Colorado:||Bennet (D-CO), Yea||Udall (D-CO), Yea|
|Connecticut:||Dodd (D-CT), Nay||Lieberman (ID-CT), Nay|
|Delaware:||Carper (D-DE), Nay||Coons (D-DE), Nay|
|Florida:||LeMieux (R-FL), Yea||Nelson (D-FL), Yea|
|Georgia:||Chambliss (R-GA), Yea||Isakson (R-GA), Yea|
|Hawaii:||Akaka (D-HI), Nay||Inouye (D-HI), Nay|
|Idaho:||Crapo (R-ID), Yea||Risch (R-ID), Yea|
|Illinois:||Durbin (D-IL), Nay||Kirk (R-IL), Yea|
|Indiana:||Bayh (D-IN), Yea||Lugar (R-IN), Nay|
|Iowa:||Grassley (R-IA), Yea||Harkin (D-IA), Nay|
|Kansas:||Brownback (R-KS), Not Voting||Roberts (R-KS), Yea|
|Kentucky:||Bunning (R-KY), Yea||McConnell (R-KY), Yea|
|Louisiana:||Landrieu (D-LA), Nay||Vitter (R-LA), Yea|
|Maine:||Collins (R-ME), Nay||Snowe (R-ME), Yea|
|Maryland:||Cardin (D-MD), Nay||Mikulski (D-MD), Not Voting|
|Massachusetts:||Brown (R-MA), Yea||Kerry (D-MA), Nay|
|Michigan:||Levin (D-MI), Nay||Stabenow (D-MI), Nay|
|Minnesota:||Franken (D-MN), Nay||Klobuchar (D-MN), Nay|
|Mississippi:||Cochran (R-MS), Nay||Wicker (R-MS), Yea|
|Missouri:||Bond (R-MO), Not Voting||McCaskill (D-MO), Yea|
|Montana:||Baucus (D-MT), Nay||Tester (D-MT), Nay|
|Nebraska:||Johanns (R-NE), Yea||Nelson (D-NE), Nay|
|Nevada:||Ensign (R-NV), Yea||Reid (D-NV), Nay|
|New Hampshire:||Gregg (R-NH), Yea||Shaheen (D-NH), Not Voting|
|New Jersey:||Lautenberg (D-NJ), Nay||Menendez (D-NJ), Nay|
|New Mexico:||Bingaman (D-NM), Nay||Udall (D-NM), Nay|
|New York:||Gillibrand (D-NY), Nay||Schumer (D-NY), Nay|
|North Carolina:||Burr (R-NC), Yea||Hagan (D-NC), Nay|
|North Dakota:||Conrad (D-ND), Nay||Dorgan (D-ND), Nay|
|Ohio:||Brown (D-OH), Nay||Voinovich (R-OH), Nay|
|Oklahoma:||Coburn (R-OK), Yea||Inhofe (R-OK), Nay|
|Oregon:||Merkley (D-OR), Nay||Wyden (D-OR), Nay|
|Pennsylvania:||Casey (D-PA), Nay||Specter (D-PA), Nay|
|Rhode Island:||Reed (D-RI), Nay||Whitehouse (D-RI), Nay|
|South Carolina:||DeMint (R-SC), Yea||Graham (R-SC), Yea|
|South Dakota:||Johnson (D-SD), Nay||Thune (R-SD), Yea|
|Tennessee:||Alexander (R-TN), Yea||Corker (R-TN), Yea|
|Texas:||Cornyn (R-TX), Yea||Hutchison (R-TX), Yea|
|Utah:||Bennett (R-UT), Nay||Hatch (R-UT), Yea|
|Vermont:||Leahy (D-VT), Nay||Sanders (I-VT), Nay|
|Virginia:||Warner (D-VA), Yea||Webb (D-VA), Nay|
|Washington:||Cantwell (D-WA), Nay||Murray (D-WA), Nay|
|West Virginia:||Manchin (D-WV), Nay||Rockefeller (D-WV), Nay|
|Wisconsin:||Feingold (D-WI), Yea||Kohl (D-WI), Nay|
|Wyoming:||Barrasso (R-WY), Yea||Enzi (R-WY), Yea|