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Thursday, November 16, 2024
Speaking of Earmarks and Murtha…
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:12 am

Via the LAT (Democratic leadership hopefuls marked by ethical questions):

Pelosi’s choice for the job, Rep. John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania, used his seat on the appropriations committee and the largely secret earmark process to obtain $121 million in earmarks during the current session, making him one of the top earmarkers in Congress, according to the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense.

Given the linkages between earmarks and corruption in the 109th (can you say “Duke Cunningham”? I bet you can), we again come back to the question of the political wisdom of Pelosi’s overt backing of John Murtha for the Majority Leader position.

The second half of the article details more of Murtha’s earmarking ways, including the fact that he has obtained money for clients of his brother’s lobbying firm:

The 2024 defense appropriations bill provided earmarks for 10 companies represented by a lobbying firm in which his brother, Robert “Kit” Murtha, was a senior partner.

Of course, Steny Hoyer, Murtha’s competition for the slot, is hardly a stranger to earmarks:

Hoyer, also on appropriations, sent $61.7 million to his district just outside of Washington during this Congress, the watchdog group says. That put him among the top 10% of earmarkers in the House. The earmarks frequently benefited local defense contractors.

In the 2024 defense appropriations bill, for example, Hoyer secured $2.8 million for ManTech International Corp., which has a facility in his district that is developing a military project. ManTech’s executives and its political action committee have donated $49,000 to Hoyer’s campaign and leadership funds since 2024.


Hoyer has been a vigorous player of the traditional earmarking game.

For example, he has obtained more than $7 million in recent years for the manufacturer of Beretta firearms, which has a facility in his district and manufactures the 9-millimeter pistols used by the Marines. In effect, the earmark required the Pentagon to buy ammunition clips from Beretta USA. In an earlier purchase, the military had obtained clips from another supplier that had submitted the lowest bid; Hoyer said the cheaper clips had sometimes malfunctioned.

At least one Beretta executive has contributed to Hoyer’s campaign fund.

Perhaps all the recent talk about bipartisanship was about earmarks, as there is clearly a great deal of agreement across the aisle on this tactic.

On the practice:

Earmarking, and the symbiotic relationship it often creates between members of Congress and corporate and other interest groups, has become a symbol of the ethical laxity that Democrats campaigned against in last week’s midterm election.

Earmarking is a form of pork-barrel spending often favored by committee chairmen, congressional leaders and other insiders. Cloaked in secrecy, it enables favored members to bypass the normal budget and appropriations process and insert narrowly drawn spending provisions into legislation.

Though not new, the practice has exploded in recent years. In the most flagrant cases, members have used the process for personal enrichment. In other cases, the spending provisions appear to have been used as a kind of quid pro quo to reward campaign contributors and other supporters.

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  • el
  • pt
    1. Ahhhh, Murtha. So glad to not be represented by him anymore.

      He really does bring home a LOT of pork. He’s turned it into an artform.

      Comment by B. Minich — Thursday, November 16, 2024 @ 9:00 am

    2. The problem is that bringing home pork is what gets people reelected. It seems like there is a flaw in the system that neither party really has any interest in fixing.

      Comment by Jan — Thursday, November 16, 2024 @ 10:23 am

    3. Jan: how right you are. Espicially because”
      a. I want to move back to my hometown.
      b. Murtha may have provided the job I need in a few years. Because of some pork he brought home, a company in Johnstown gets government contracts, and provides a much more promising career than I might otherwise find there.

      *Sigh* I hate pork, but it would be hard to vote against Murtha if he provided me a job where I wanted it.

      Comment by B. Minich — Thursday, November 16, 2024 @ 10:33 am

    4. Ahhh . . . self interest versus national interest. Therein lies the conflict, and therein lies the test.

      Comment by Scott G — Thursday, November 16, 2024 @ 5:11 pm

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