Connecting Congressional Earmarks With Campaign Contributions

September 2008
Nieman Reports;Fall2008, Vol. 62 Issue 3, p27
The article presents a case study of investigative reporting. The story examined the relationship between so-called "earmark" appropriations in the U.S. budget for spending in specific Congressional districts and campaign contributions made to individual Senators and Representatives. The reporters created a database containing information on the large number of such appropriations contained in the appropriations bill for the Department of Defense. The difficulties involved in the process are described. Congress has specifically exempted itself from the Freedom of Information Act, and many of the earmarks are contained in documents other than the final bill. Ironically, many of the earmarks were located by compiling press releases from legislators bragging of their success in obtaining spending for their districts.


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