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Published: Friday, 8/14/2009

Congress' earmarks give Ohio 39th most

BY DARREL ROWLAND
COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Senators and representatives from 38 other states are better at bringing home the bacon - or is that sucking up the public pork? - than Ohio's delegation, a study of congressional earmarks unveiled yesterday shows.

The Buckeye State got $30.36 per capita from earmarks during the past two federal fiscal years, according to research by the nonprofit/nonpartisan duo of the Center for Responsive Politics and Taxpayers for Common Sense.

That's No. 39 in the United States, far behind the $331.94 of national leader Alaska, but better than the $15.69 per person for Arizona, which was dead last.

The national average was $41.06.

Even worse for those who say earmarks are beneficial, Ohio's top pork producer is no longer in Congress: David L. Hobson of Springfield.

Mr. Hobson was No. 28 in the House, raking in more than $88 million. However, the portion of Mr. Hobson's haul designated as "solo" earmarks - $61 million - was fifth-highest in the lower chamber.

The top current member of the delegation, Democrat Marcy Kaptur of Toledo, finished 44th, with $72 million, $49 million solo. The latter figure was ninth in the House.

Among the 50 or so representatives getting no earmarks was Minority Leader John Boehner, a Republican.

In the Senate, Republican George Voinovich was 53rd with $137 million in earmarks. Democrat Sherrod Brown was 69th, with about $106 million.

A half-dozen senators generated no earmarks at all, including John McCain and Barack Obama.

In all, fiscal 2008 and 2009 saw more than 20,000 earmarked spending provisions worth more than $35 billion, the study found.

"Earmarks and campaign contributions are part and parcel of the pay-to-play system that permeates Washington," said Ryan Alexander, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense. "Companies making thousands of dollars in campaign contributions get millions of dollars of earmarked taxpayer dollars from lawmakers."

Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, said in the release, "At a minimum, earmarks granted to lawmakers' friends and supporters merit scrutiny and indicate potential conflicts of interest.

"This information is to help Americans decide for themselves whether their congressional representatives are beholden to the voters who elect them - or to elite interests bankrolling their campaigns."

The study can be accessed at www.opensecrets.org/news/2009/08/watchdog-groups-release-databa.html



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