New earmarks -- some are transparent, some are like Jimmy Hoffa

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Some members of Congress are celebrating Easter early. But instead of hiding eggs, they're hiding their earmark requests.

Remember the new rule for earmarks? If you request them, you've got to put them up on your website. President Obama announced the rule about a month ago when there was the big hoo-hah over too much pork.

"Earmarks that members do seek must be aired on those members' websites in advance, so the public and the press can examine them and judge their merits for themselves," he said.

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So, under this rule, if you have spending requests for 2010 you must put a link on your website giving all the details. The deadline was Saturday.

Deadline

So, how are Members doing?

Taxpayers for Common Sense, a budget watchdog group, reports that 71 members missed the deadline. The organization produced an exhaustive report detailing which lawmaker fulfilled the requirement to report earmarks and where the links were located.

Kudos to The Hill newspaper (probably interns locked in a room with Twinkies and Red Bull) for combing through that study to determine how accessible the links were.

Sunshine

As would be expected, some members were much more open than others.

The good guys according to The Hill (we'll take their word for it) are Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), Majority Whip James Blyburn (D-S.C.), Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) and Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.)

They all had links on their respective home pages.

Secret ops

Others, however, decided they would follow the Jimmy Hoffa disposal method. Like New York Congressmen José Serrano and Joseph Crowley (both Democrats). It takes three clicks to find their earmark requests and you need GPS to get there.

But to find Rep. Steven LaTourette's earmark request you must navigate through a bizarre and almost comical path. It's like you've been blindfolded in a house of mirrors during an earthquake. And then if you somehow get there, you find a greeting from the Ohio Republican which says:

“In the past, member-directed funding requests -- often known as earmarks -- were sometimes done in secret and were often airdropped into bills at the last minute.... Fortunately, there is far more transparency and accountability now and the public can gauge whether funding requests ... have merit."

Yes. All you need is sonar. And a seeing eye dog.

“That isn’t exactly transparency,” grumbled Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense.

To read the full article, click here.

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