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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Crist vows no 'earmarks' in U.S. Senate



Charlie Crist says he would not seek earmarks, the Washington term for political pork, if elected to the U.S. Senate.

It's an easy call, one Democrats and Republicans are making heading into the election year. But it provides Crist with an avenue to attack Marco Rubio's own earmarking record. Crist let many of Rubio's initiatives escape veto, however. (see today's Times/Herald story)

“Unlike earmark Rubio, who only claims to be against special interest pork projects, having vetoed a record $459 million in earmarks, I have the record to prove I will follow through on this promise," Crist claimed. The release is carefully worded to show Crist's aversion would be limited to the 112th Congress.

Rubio has made a similar pledge (as has interim U.S. Sen. George LeMieux). And to further illustrate how popular the idea is, House Democratic leaders today announced a ban on earmarks to corporations, a setback for defense appropriators like U.S. Rep. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores. But, so far, the Senate has not gone along.

Young is recovering from a bout of food poising and could not be reached for comment. Florida's other defense appropriator, Democrat Allen Boyd, said he wasn't fully aware of the ban.

"Life will go on," he said. Reminded the Senate hasn't gone along he laughed and said, "Good point. We may end up voting for somebody else's earmarks."

Said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:

"Today’s proposal totally bans corporate earmarks – critical reform that addresses concerns that many Americans have.  It ensures that for-profit companies no longer reap the rewards of congressional earmarks and limits the influence of lobbyists on Members of Congress.  This ban will ensure good stewardship of taxpayer dollars by the federal government across all agencies.

“To prevent any conflicts of interest, this initiative will empower the Defense Department – not Members of Congress – to choose which businesses and projects will receive funding.  It will open the doors of the Pentagon to small start-ups with no inside connections.  It will also require federal agencies to audit 5 percent of all earmarks directed to non-profit entities, to help ensure that non-profit earmarks go for their intended purpose."

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 12:28pm]


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