August 21, 2006

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: A new Wall Street Journal editorial looks at the secret hold on earmarks reform:

Yet most Senators clearly have no desire to shine a light on their spending practices, and at least one — perhaps more — has placed a “secret” hold on the legislation. Normally the architects of these holds are exposed within a few legislative days, but with Congress on recess the masked spender has so far evaded capture and public scrutiny.

Porkbusters, a grassroots outfit that fights government waste, found this untransparent move to stymie government transparency a bit rich, and last week launched a campaign to unveil the blocker’s identity. It has asked its members to call on their Senators to disavow the hold, and the responses are trickling in. The group, which is tracking the results on its Web site (, still has the pictures of 91 Senators under its “Suspect” list. The nine Senators who have denied placing the hold are now listed as “In the Clear”; they are Senator Coburn, Barack Obama, Mary Landrieu, David Vitter, John McCain, Ron Wyden, Richard Shelby, Jim Inhofe and Jeff Sessions.

If Congress insists on spending like there’s no tomorrow, at least the Members could let the voters see what they’re spending it on by passing Senator Coburn’s reform. Will the real secret Senator please stand up?

I’m guessing he or she won’t come forward voluntarily.

UPDATE: This item has produced an angry email to PorkBusters from a Senator’s communications staffer, charging a “guilty until proved innocent” approach. This seems unwise, but I’ll leave out the guy’s name and attribute it to Monday-morning blahs. But here’s some advice.

First, angry emails to bloggers are a bad idea. They usually get reprinted in full.

Second, “guilty until proved innocent” seems a bit strong, but it’s also kind of rich considering that the whole issue stems from Senate secrecy about the people’s business. It’s the Senate’s effort to avoid transparency and accountability that’s at the root of the problem here. Senators conducting Senate business aren’t like individuals going about their private lives — they’re public officials, who work for the public, who are doing the public’s business, not their own. The Senate’s tendency to forget that, and to wallow in its own sense of entitlement, is what’s wrong here. Complaints like this one just underscore that.

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