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EXPOSÉ on the JOURNAL: Mr. Heath Goes Back to Washington
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January 9, 2009

As Congress considers banning earmarks altogether, two SEATTLE TIMES investigative reporters continue to dig deep into earmarks, uncovering stories of waste and abuse in Washington.

BILL MOYERS JOURNAL and the PBS series EXPOSÉ: AMERICA'S INVESTIGATIVE REPORTS return to the story of these reporters, whose investigations into the Byzantine world of earmarks have exposed questionable earmarks awarded by members of Congress to companies in their home districts—often to businesses whose executives, employees or PACs had donated to their campaigns.

The reporters also uncovered stories of earmarks added to defense appropriations bills that the military didn't request. Example: The Coast Guard received a $4.65 million patrol boat it hadn't asked for and didn't need. With no use for the expensive vessel, the Coast Guard simply gave the boat to a California Sheriff's office. David Heath of the SEATTLE TIMES says: "They're selling a product to the military that they're not even using."

After the original broadcast, David Heath, one the of team of reporters, and EXPOSÉ producer Marc Shaffer answered viewer questions on our blog. David Heath's response can be found here, and Marc Shaffer's here.

We welcome additional questions, simply submit them to our blog and we'll post David Heath's answers in the next few weeks.

And check out these additional resources:

Track Your Reps:

Taxpayers for Common Sense
Taxpayers for Common Sense is a congressional watchdog group that creates a database for all earmarks as soon as bill is introduced. The group then analyzes the information, paying particular attention to signs of earmark abuse.

Sunlight Foundation
On the Web site for the group you will find a number of tools developed to make Congress a more transparent entity for American citizens. Among their projects: an interactive Earmark Map which lets you track such appropriations by zip code! And, Congresspedia, "the citizen's encyclopedia on Congress that anyone including you can edit.

>more tracking tools below

Related
        Media:
ExposeExposé on BILL MOYERS JOURNAL: Mr. Heath Goes to Washington
The broadcast profiles SEATTLE TIMES reporters on the trail of how members of Congress have awarded federal dollars for questionable purposes to companies in local Congressional districts —often to companies whose executives, employees or PACs have made campaign contributions to their legislators.

GraphEarmark Reform?
With corruption on the minds of many voters in the 2006 midterm elections, has the new Congress made real strides in curbing the abuse of earmarks? (July 27, 2008)

Capitol CrimesMOYERS ON AMERICA: CAPITOL CRIMES
Bill Moyers' and Sherry Jones' investigation into the Jack Abramoff scandal.


GraphCleaning House: Congressional Ethics
With Democrats in charge in DC, the JOURNAL asks what's the state of the ethical reforms under consideration in Congress. (June 1, 2007)

References and Reading:
How to Track Your Reps, Continued:

Maplight.org
Maplight is developing a database which combines all campaign contributions to U.S. legislators with legislators' votes on every bill, using official records from the Library of Congress Web site and the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Visitors to the developing site can track how much the pharmaceutical industry contributed to each senator voting Yes, and voting No, on an amendment to prohibit consumers from buying prescription drugs from abroad.

OpenCongress.org
This is a Sunlight Foundation sponsored group, which centralizes official government data with news and blog coverage regarding members of Congress.

PorkBusters.org
Porkbusters.org researches every US senators' voting patterns and scores them based on how active they were in attempting to curb earmarks. See how your senator ranks at the PorkBusters Scorecard.

FollowtheMoney.org
A comprehensive guide to money in politics at the state level. Find out how much candidates are collecting in campaign contributions and from which organizations.

Citizens Against Government Waste
This group produces numerous publications highlighting wasteful government spending, as well as features action alerts that inform the public about earmark abuses.

More on Earmarks:

Office of Management and Budget
The OMB Web site offers a basic primer on earmarks as well as a limited database, listing earmarks by department. According to the site: "This database provides more information on earmarks in one place than has ever been available through the Federal Government. It is part of an effort to bring greater accountability to federal spending. This step is also consistent with changes in the House Rules and Senate legislation during the 110th Congress, which requires more disclosure for earmarks."

The Congressional Pig Book
Citizens Against Government Waste's Congressional Pig Book is an annual compilation of the pork-barrel projects in the federal budget. They have kept a record of government wastes, pork-barrel spending, and earmarks since 1991, and each year's report can be found on their Web site.

Just Say No to Earmarks
by Senator Tom Coburn, WALL STREET JOURNAL, February 10, 2006
"John McCain and I recently delivered a letter to our colleagues announcing our intention to challenge every individual earmark on the floor of the Senate. Many senators, staff and reporters have asked if we are serious. The answer is yes."

Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest
Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest (CLPI) promotes, supports and protects 501(c)(3) nonprofit advocacy and lobbying in order to strengthen participation in our democratic society and advance charitable missions. The Web site contains information on effective lobbying procedures.

More on congressional Ethics:

Americans for Prosperity
"Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFP Foundation) are committed to educating citizens about economic policy and mobilizing those citizens as advocates in the public policy process."

The Center for Public Integrity
The Center for Public Integrity is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, tax-exempt organization that conducts investigative research and reporting on public policy issues in the United States and around the world. They post commentaries, list news stories of interest, and distribute the "Public i" newsletter. The Center maintains extensive online research projects including LobbyWatch, and PowerTrips, an investigation into congressional travel.

The Center for Responsive Politics
The Center for Responsive Politics is a nonpartisan, nonprofit research group based in Washington, D.C. that tracks money in politics, and its effect on elections and public policy. The site contains comprehensive databases on 527s, PACS and breakdown of dollars by representative, major donors, donors by industry, and many others.

The Federal Election Commission (FEC)
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is an agency created to administer and enforce the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1975 (FECA), the statute that regulates the financing of federal elections in the United States. It has jurisdiction over all subsequent campaign finance regulation. The Web site contains a searchable database of all campaign finance filings and a guide to the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2004.

Public Citizen
Public Citizen is a national nonprofit public interest organization "protecting health, safety, and democracy." Their Lobbyinginfo Web site features a report on Congressmen who retired to K Street (PDF) and offers a searchable database of lobbyists and their employments histories.

CONGRESSIONAL ETHICS RULES
House of Representatives Committee on Rules
United States Senate Committee on Rules and Administration
Senate Lobbying Rules
House of Representatives Lobbying and Public Disclosure Rules

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EXPOSÉ ON THE JOURNAL: Mr. Heath Goes Back to Washington
Get an update on the SEATTLE TIMES reporters who uncovered how members of Congress had awarded federal dollars for questionable purposes to companies in local Congressional districts — often to companies whose executives, employees or PACs have made campaign contributions to their legislators.

EARMARK REFORM AT LAST?
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