Michele Bachmann, my representative, has been unfairly criticized for signing a pledge that she wouldn’t accept earmarks. Her political opponents didn’t bother finding out why she made this pledge. Thursday afternoon, I got a mailing from Rep. Bachmann that explains her position on earmarks. It also tells about what she’s doing to take the corruption out of the earmark process. First, here’s Michele’s explanation on why she took the pledge:

Like you, the status of the DeSoto Bridge repairs is very important to me. There are few arteries or bridges more vital to the St. Cloud area. Regrettably, it’s critical projects just like this that are shortchanged most by rampant pork barrel spending in Washington.

That’s why I’ve taken a pledge to not take any earmarks this year while working with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle who are determined to reform the earmarking system. It is our hope to replace a system of backroom backscratching with one in which projects are judged on merit and each of your tax dollars is spent wisely on real priorities.

Contrary to what her political opponents say, Rep. Bachmann isn’t opposed to earmarks:

In my first year in the Congress, I requested local earmarks for my district and was fortunate to secure funding for important local projects, including $803,600 for St. Cloud Metro Bus. I was able to stand confidently by each and every earmark request made, knowing they could stand on their merits withstand public scrutiny. Not all my colleagues could say that. Some sought millions of dollars in funding for golf programs, Christmas tree gift shops and the like.

It’s just a guess but I’m betting this is what turned Rep. Bachmann off about the earmark process:

What I saw last year opened my eyes to how corrupt the system had become. One Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman threatened another Representative on the floor of the House, telling him he’d never get an earmark in any billhe was responsible for crafting, all because of a difference of opinion.

Unless I miss my guess, that subcommittee chairman is John Murtha. The representative he threatened was Mike Rogers, (R-MI). Rep. Rogers is a former FBI Special Agent investigating public corruption as a member of the Chicago Bureau’s organized crime unit. When Rep. Rogers was outspoken in saying that money spent on the National Drug Intelligence Center wasn’t being spent efficiently, Murtha took it personally because it’s in his district.

Here’s what ABC News reported at the time:

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., who for six years served as an FBI special agent investigating public corruption as a member of the Chicago bureau’s organized crime unit, says that Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on defense, violated House ethics rules Thursday for threatening to strip any funding for Rogers’ projects after Rogers pushed for the elimination of a government center in Murtha’s home district.

On the floor of the House of Representatives Thursday, Rogers alleges, Murtha, upset by Rogers’ aggressive attempts the week before to kill the project in Murtha’s home district, said something along the lines of “I hope you don’t have any earmarks in the defense appropriation bill because they are gone and you will not get any earmarks now and forever.”

Rogers said he replied by saying, “This is not the way we do things here” and “is that supposed to make me afraid of you?” “That’s the way I do it,” Murtha said, according to Rogers.

John Murtha’s threats against a former FBI special agent are despicable. Michele Bachmann’s attempt to reform that corruption machine should earn her praise, not derision.

Minnesota’s senior member in the House, Jim Oberstar, will likely fight her tooth and nail because he’s in love with this corrupt system, too. Here’s what President Bush said in chastizing Jim Oberstar:

“The way it seems to have worked is that each member on that (Transportation) committee gets to set his or her own priorities first,” Bush said. “That’s not the right way to prioritize the people’s money. Before we raise taxes, which could affect economic growth, I would strongly urge the Congress to examine how they set priorities.”

It’s time to be realistic about true earmark reform, not the crap that passed last year. People like John Murtha, Jim Oberstar, Bill Young, Bud Shuster, Robert Byrd and Ted Stevens will fight hard to keep the pork flowing. Rep. Bachmann faces a steep uphill fight. That said, if anyone’s got the ability to win that fight, it’s Rep. Bachmann.

Rep. Bachmann is the polar opposite of John Murtha and Jim Oberstar. I’ve said, half-kiddingly, that they should ‘retire’ John Murtha’s office when he’s no longer there. If they don’t choose that option, then I’ve suggested that they rename the office to “The Corporate Welfare Headquarters”.

I’m proud to call Michele my representative in the US House of Representatives. I’m thankful that she cares about spending our tax dollars efficiently.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

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