Earmarks increasingly are the source of corruption and ethical transgressions on both sides of the aisle in Congress. Yet, the cardinals defend the practice. They argue constituents want pork, not reform.
The authentic prevailing congressional attitude toward reform was expressed by a Democrat who often is less discreet than his colleagues. The Sun Gazette newspaper in northern Virginia reported that Rep. Jim Moran told a party dinner June 9 in his district: "When I become [a House Appropriations subcommittee] chairman, I'm going to earmark the s--- out of it."
Appropriators stalk the House taking names of colleagues who dare disrupt logrolling. Every time, however, a coterie votes against pork. Their ranks include conservative reformers Jeb Hensarling of Texas, Mike Pence of Indiana, John Shadegg of Arizona and Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. They can kiss goodbye goodies for their districts.
At Charlie Palmer's restaurant on Wednesday, assembled GOP campaign contributors cheered as John Boehner was introduced as the majority leader who never has sponsored an earmark. Later that day, Boehner voted against each of Flake's attempted earmark removals. In the House, one conservative reformer said to another seated beside him: "With this leadership, we never will get rid of earmarks."