Monday, July 10, 2006

Jerry Lewis - King of the Secret Earmark

Out in the heart of Representative Jerry Lewis' (CA-41) district, the Daily Bulletin asks the congressman to reveal his earmarks list. Jerry says, "NO!"

And though much of the flak from the FBI inquiry into a lobbying firm’s connections to powerful Congressmen Jerry Lewis and Ken Calvert [CA-44] has arisen from concerns over how multimillion-dollar appropriations are decided on, both Lewis and Calvert were among those who declined to make public which special projects they’d like to see inserted in the spending bills.

This, when transparency is so important to a process that allows requests for specific projects and programs to be made outside normal budget scrutiny. Now, we see those at the helm of congressional spending refusing to divulge to taxpayers how their money may be spent.


We expect the same of Lewis and the rest.

With all eyes on what role money and power play in the halls of Congress, now is the time especially for Lewis, powerful head of the House Appropriations Committee, and others to be exceedingly open and forthcoming about what provisions they’d like to make in the nation’s budget.

And wasn’t it Lewis, in reforms he proposed early this year, who said members’ requests should be submitted in writing, and that they should be made public before the House votes on a spending bill?

Why the reticence now?

With the number of national earmarks up almost 400 percent, from 4,126 in 1994 to 15,077 in 2002, the public has a right to know in advance what its money is going for, and which special projects will get funded.

Please, representatives, tell us what you’re asking for, so that we may truly see that it is in our behalf.

Remember Jerry Lewis is the man who was also supposed to be keeping an eye on convicted Republican felon Randy "Duke" Cunningham, who was abusing the earmark process for direct personal gain. Why would anyone expect Lewis to be forthcoming about his own earmarking activity.

Sadly, the Daily Bulletin also asked California's two senators for their earmark lists. Both Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer turned their request down. It is going to be hard for Democrats to run against the Republican culture of corruption, if they don't intend to open themselves us to public scrutiny.