Pork on Parade

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Taxpayers for Common Sense just came out with tallies for the members of Congress who've collected the most earmarks and right near the top of the list are both Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA), both of whom are in the middle of corruption investigations.

This year has been marked by strong rhetoric on both sides of the aisle criticized so-called "pork barrel spending" but both Stevens and Lewis have depended on the secretive, discretionary spending allocations to increase their power.

 

Sen. Thad Cochran (Miss.), ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, has collected $774 million worth of earmarks in 12 spending bills. After Cochran, Sen. Ted Stevens (Alaska), the second-ranking Republican on Appropriations, secured more money for special projects than any other member of Congress: $502 million.

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Rep. Jerry Lewis (Calif.), ranking Republican on the full Appropriations panel, rounded out the top three House earmarkers. He collected $137 million in funds, far more than the Democratic chairman, Rep. David Obey (Wis.). Obey has his name attached to $90 million worth of projects in various spending bills.

Both Stevens and Lewis have taken an image hit this year. While Stevens worries over the burgeoning VECO scandal in Alaska and questions over whether he traded legislative favors for personal ones, questions continue to be asked about whether Lewis used his powerful position on the House Appropriations Committee to steer money towards campaign contributors and clients of lobby firms run by his ex-staffers and close friends.