In a posting yesterday, “Lawmakers' Honor Required in Reporting Earmark Details,” Congressional Quarterly reported on the lack of transparency and accountability in the appropriations process. Congressman Himes has aggressively taken on this issue, both with this voting record and his own funding request policy. In the article, Steve Ellis, Vice President of Taxpayers for Common Sense, points out:

“We find all kinds of shenanigans [in the earmark disclosure process]: lawmakers laundering the true beneficiary behind government agencies, listing the prime contractor as the beneficiary when it is really a local subcontractor or, in this case listing an address that has little to do with the true earmark recipient.” 

The “pay to play” scenario for earmark recipients permeates the appropriations process.  Yesterday, during consideration of H.R. 3326, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2010, Congressman Himes continued his effort to eliminate this practice and restore accountability to the process.

During consideration of the Defense spending bill, Congressman Himes voted against the majority of his party on two separate amendments, both aimed at rooting out corruption and increasing transparency and accountability in federal spending.  Reaching across party lines, Congressman Himes cast these votes to protect our troops and provide the supplies and services they need, while at the same time, protecting the American taxpayer and laying down a marker that corruption will not be tolerated in Congress.

The first amendment effectively barred any taxpayer funds for 75 various earmarks requested by the Paul Magliocchetti and Associates (PMA) Group.  The group was a defense lobbying firm that is now the focus of multiple federal corruption investigations into the link between campaign contributions made by the firm and its associates and federal earmarks received by its clients.  As one of 19 Democrats to support this amendment, Congressman Himes took a stand against “pay to play” politics and set a high standard for earmark reform in Congress. Congressman Himes has also broken with Democrats nine times to vote in favor of requiring the House Ethics Committee to investigate the tie between PMA’s campaign contributions and its earmarks.

The second amendment stripped H.R. 3326 of all earmarks for private companies.  Congressman Himes was one of only nine Democrats to support this amendment.

In concert with the votes he took yesterday, Congressman Himes voluntarily maintains a strict policy in his own office not to support any earmark requests for for-profit companies. He also prohibits campaign contributions from entities for which he has requested an appropriation.