Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) has been named May 2017 Porker of the Month by Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) for his reckless push to revive earmarks, which are one of the most wasteful and corrupt practices in the history of Congress. Rooney joins the disgraced group of politicians such as Senator Chuck Schumer (Porker of the Year 2016), House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) who earned the dishonor for their expensive and unethical practices.
“A lot of people think that being a member of Congress is somehow us riding around in limos,” Rooney recently told a group of angry constituents in Englewood, Fla. “I’m not looking for sympathy. Our approval rating is below Fidel Castro’s, and he’s dead.”
On May 4, 2017, Rep. Rooney introduced a resolution that would change the definition of a “congressional earmark” to allow Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation water projects to be earmarked in areas of the country that include his own district. Rep. Rooney’s press release that same day dubbed earmarks a “fictitious boogeyman” and included a remarkably thoughtless, illogical, and arrogant attack on taxpayer advocates like CAGW: “Frankly, if anyone is padding their pockets and buying votes in Congress, its political action committees that maintain their relevancy by perpetuating this idea that earmarks are the root of all evil and dysfunction in Washington.”
CAGW President Tom Schatz said in a statement: “It is sad to see Rep. Rooney fall into the same trap as countless disgraced, big-spending congressmen before him. There is no such thing as a ‘limited’ exemption for some earmarks. Cracking open that wasteful door will open the floodgates to the worst days of pork-barrel earmarking. As voters made clear last year, it is time to clean up the swamp in the nation’s capital. But Rep. Rooney is so much in love with earmarks that he is blind to the corruption and disarray that they have caused, including the loss of the House Republican majority in 2006.”
“His repeated and ill-advised attempts to restore earmarks cannot go unchallenged. By attempting to undermine and circumvent the budget process in the name of personal and parochial interests, Rep. Rooney reveals everything that is wrong with the discredited and dysfunctional system. As CAGW has noted, earmarks adversely impact agency priorities, reward special interests at the expense of taxpayers, and allow members of Congress to indulge their narcissistic vices, while a disproportionate amount of earmarked projects go to members of the Appropriations Committees such as Rep. Rooney himself. In comments to The Atlantic on November 25, 2016, Rooney said of earmarks, ‘That’s governing. That’s solving problems.’ Our message to Rep. Rooney: Earmarks are not the solution to Congress’s problems; earmarks are the problem.”
Former Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) famously said, earmarks are “the gateway drug to overspending.” Passing budget-busting legislation should not be the aim of Congress when the national debt is poised to top $20 trillion. Since 1991, Congress has approved 110,442 earmarks costing taxpayers $323.1 billion, including infamous boondoggles like the Bridge to Nowhere. The very real result of a decade of earmark scandals was the incarceration of members of Congress, staff, and lobbyists.
For his irresponsible efforts to bring back pork-barrel earmarks, CAGW names Rep. Tom Rooney its May 2017 Porker of the Month.
Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government. Porker of the Month is a dubious honor given to lawmakers, government officials, and political candidates who have shown a blatant disregard for the interests of taxpayers.