Right, Left Unite To Push Earmark Exposure

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Two transparency advocacy groups from opposing ends of the ideological spectrum are jointly petitioning the Office of Management and Budget take politics out of the federal budget process — or at least make it easier for taxpayers to see where their money is going.

Cause of Action, a conservative legal non-profit, and Demand Progress, a liberal grassroots advocacy non-profit, are petitioning OMB to enforce an existing Bush-era executive order requiring agencies to post on their websites all communications from members of Congress seeking to influence how appropriated tax dollars are spent.

The EO was meant to shed light on executive branch earmarks — spending decisions made by bureaucrats at the behest of senators or representatives.

“Cause of Action’s research shows that for years, federal agencies have been ignoring a binding executive order designed to protect taxpayer dollars from being misused,” Cause of Action Executive Director Daniel Epstein said. “Our organizations believe that Washington has a duty to the public to ensure that federal discretionary spending decisions are transparent and merit-based.”

The House and Senate have prohibited most forms of legislative earmarks, so members of Congress turned to letters, emails, phone calls and in-person visits to pressure agency officials to spend funds on pet projects. direct funds to a pet project or business interest, Demand Progress Policy Director Daniel Schuman said.

“The administration must add a measure of transparency to earmark requests received by executive branch agencies,” Schuman said. “Federal spending decisions should be made on merit and in the sunshine. There already is an executive order on the books that addresses secret calls and letters by Congress and special pleaders. It is time to enforce it.”

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