The ACRU Joins the Conservative Action Project in Saying ‘No’ to Earmarks

Economics - Money

Last week the Conservative Action Project (CAP) released a Memo for the Movement entitled Stop the Return of Earmarks! An PDF version of this memo can be found HERE. ACRU Chairman and CEO Susan Carleson signed this memo urging House members to uphold the ban on earmarks.

Memo for the Movement
Stop the Return of Earmarks!

January 26, 2017
Updated January 30, 2017
Washington, DC

We congratulate the Senate Republican Conference for its vote on January 10th to keep the ban on earmarks. Sadly, some House Republicans still want to bring back earmarks in appropriations bills and thus bring back the old ways of Washington. It’s hard to think of a single practice in the political arena that better represents the “swamp” of Washington than earmarking. Earmarks are cronyism in its purest form and erode Americans’ faith in their elected officials and system of representative government. We urge the House to follow the Senate’s lead and also maintain its ban on earmarks.

Some Americans may know just how the practice works, and how bad it is: a politically connected donor to a congressman, or perhaps a local political leader on whom the congressman relies for support, requests federal taxpayer money for a particular project in the congressman’s district. The congressman then makes the earmark request, not because he has explored all other projects in the nation and concluded that the one in his district is miraculously the worthiest, but primarily because it will bring political benefit to him and those people or groups who support (or could potentially support) him, both financially and electorally.

Most commonly, earmark requests are granted based on political seniority and/or electoral vulnerability, rather than on any degree of merit. It’s an unscrupulous practice, and Congress was right to stop it. In fact, Vice-President-Elect Pence was instrumental in stopping earmarks during his time in Congress.

Earmarks are often used to “grease the skids” for higher federal spending. That is, the Appropriations Committees and the leaders in both houses of Congress insert earmarks into big-spending bills in order to entice particular Members of Congress to vote for bills they might otherwise not vote for. The leaders deliberately put Members into the difficult position of choosing between fiscal responsibility and special projects for their constituents. Furthermore, and worse, many earmarks are for wasteful or unconstitutional projects, e.g., local matters that should not receive federal taxpayer dollars at all. For example, federal taxpayers in Indiana should not have to pay for the repair of a local one-lane overpass in California, nor should federal taxpayers in North Carolina have to pay for bike-path beautification in New Mexico.

The use of all taxpayer funds should be considered on the merits through regular order, first through congressional authorizing committees in open sessions, then through congressional appropriations committees in open sessions, and then on the floors of both houses of Congress with significant advance public notice and the ability to amend or eliminate any such spending. And once such spending is enacted, Congress should conduct rigorous oversight to ensure that there is no improper use of the funds. Congress has much to do if it is to regain control over the wasteful spending by executive branch agencies, and that should be its primary goal, rather than self-serving, politically directed spending of the American taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars.

We suggest the following steps for the House of Representatives to stop a return to congressional earmarking:

  • No Special Meeting. Press reports indicate that House Republicans intend to hold a special meeting by March of this year to discuss how earmarks could be “reformed” and thus returned to practice. House Republican Leadership should call off this meeting and declare that the earmark ban will remain in force.
  • Accept a Transparency Challenge. Even the Members of Congress who want to bring back earmarks know that the issue is politically risky. That is why the meetings to discuss bringing them back have been secret and why the planned future meeting will be secret. If House Republicans feel they must proceed with their special meeting on earmarks, then House Republican Leadership should ensure that the meeting is publicly announced at least a week in advance and is covered live on TV and Internet video stream. In fact, House Republicans should hold all deliberations about a return to earmarking in public and on TV/livestream-and cast any related votes in the same public way.

If these efforts above fail, we would then urge President Trump to veto any bill that (a) contains earmarks, (b) refers to an external list of earmarks (i.e., a list of projects not included in the legislative text), or (c) is or is expected to be accompanied by an external list of earmarks not in the legislative text.

We look forward to Conservative-Movement-wide collaboration on this important matter.

The Honorable Edwin Meese III
Former Attorney General
President Ronald Reagan

The Honorable Becky Norton Dunlop
Chairman, Conservative Action Project
Former White House Advisor, President Ronald Reagan

David Bozell

Cleta Mitchell, Esq.
Conservative Attorney

The Honorable T. Kenneth Cribb, Jr.
Former Domestic Advisor
President Ronald Reagan

Erick Erickson
The Resurgent

Diana Banister
President and Partner
Shirley & Banister Public Affairs

Alfred S. Regnery
Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund

Michael A. Needham
Chief Executive Officer
Heritage Action for America

The Honorable Mike Spence
Founding President
Conservative Republicans of California

Haley Martin
The Martin Foundation

Jack Park
Conservative Activist and Donor

Tim LeFever
Chairman of the Board
Capitol Resource Institute

Bishop E.W. Jackson
STAND Action, Inc.

Adam Brandon

Susan A. Carleson
Chairman and CEO
American Civil Rights Union

L. Brent Bozell
Media Research Center

Allen J. Hebert
American-Chinese Fellowship

Richard H. Wright

Ren Broekhuizen
Conservative Activist and Donor

Elsa Prince Broekhuizen
EDP Management Company, LLC

The Honorable James C. Miller III
Former Director of OMB
President Ronald Reagan

Willes K. Lee
National Federation of Republican Assemblies

Lee A. Beaman
Chief Executive Officer
Beaman Automotive

Joseph R. Gregory
Chairman and CEO
Gregory Management Co.

James N. Clymer, Esq.
Clymer Conrad, P.C.

Joseph A. Morris
Morris & De La Rosa

Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D
The Crouse Institute

Lou Cordia
Cordia and Associates

Craig Shirley
Reagan biographer
Presidential historian

Andresen Blom
Executive Director
Grassroot Hawaii Action, Inc.

Thomas A. Schatz
Citizens Against Government Waste

The Honorable Donald J. Devine
Former Director, U.S. Office of Personnel Management under Ronald Reagan and Senior Scholar,
The Fund for American Studies

Rick Manning
Americans for Limited Government

C. Preston Noell III
Tradition, Family, Property, Inc.

Tricia Erickson
Angel Pictures & Publicity, Inc.

Floyd Brown
Western Center for Journalism

James L. Martin
60 Plus Association

Kay R. Daly
Coalition for a Fair Judiciary

Linwood Bragan
Executive Director
CapStand Council for Policy & Ethics

Matt Mackowiak
Executive Director
Fight For Tomorrow

Rebecca Hagelin
Board of Directors, FamilyTalk
Secretary, Council for National Policy

Judson Phillips
Tea Party Nation

Neil Siefring
Vice President
Hilltop Advocacy, LLC

J.T. Mastranadi
Vice President for Governmental Affairs
Citizens United

The Honorable Mike Hill
Former Member
Florida State Representative

John C. Bradburne
Bradburne Consulting, LLC

Todd W. Herrick

Bob Adams
Revive America PAC

Randy M. Long, JD, CFP®, CExP™
Long Business Advisors, LLC

Mark Fitzgibbons
President of Corporate Affairs
American Target Advertising

Belden Bell
Heritage Legacy Society

Terrence M. Scanlon
Retired President
Capital Research Center

Peter J. Thomas
Americans for Constitutional Liberty

Quin Hillyer
Veteran conservative columnist

David McIntosh
Club for Growth

Robert K. Fischer
Meeting Coordinator
Conservatives of Faith

David Williams
Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Melissa Ortiz
Founder & Principal
Able Americans

Jenny Beth Martin
Tea Party Patriots

William W. Pascoe, III
Antietam Communications

Ted Baehr

Trent England
David & Ann Brown Distinguished Fellow
Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs

Grover Norquist
Americans for Tax Reform

Gary L. Bauer
American Values

The Honorable Ken Cuccinelli
President, Senate Conservatives Fund
Former Attorney General of Virginia

Herman Cain

Kevin Freeman
NSCI Institute

Eli Lehrer
R Street

Russell Ramsland
Park Cities/Preston Hollow Leadership Forum

Col Francis X. De Luca USMCR(Ret)
Civitas Institute

Ellen Grigsby
Director of Institutional Partnerships
Open Doors USA

Dr. Randy Brinson
Optimum Impact, LLC

Dr. James C. Dobson
Founder & President
Dr. James Dobson’s FamilyTalk

Pete Sepp
President, National Taxpayers Union &
NTU Foundation

Reverend Ren Broekhuizen
Retired Pastor