There's a bit of political trench warfare going on right now between the campaigns of Republican Dino Rossi and Democrat Patty Murray over whether Rossi is a big old hypocrite on the issue of earmarks.
For some time now, Rossi has been attacking Murray for being an earmarking D.C. insider, and he's promised not to get into the dirty business of earmarks himself—if he's elected to the U.S. Senate. But, as the McClatchy news service recently noted:
While he's calling for an outright ban on them now, Rossi was no stranger to Olympia's version of earmarks — or, as lawmakers euphemistically call them, "locally targeted investments" — during his two terms in the state Senate.
They were known as "bacon bits," little pieces of pork for their districts that even Rossi lobbied influential committee chairmen to include in the state budget.
State Sen. Darlene Fairley, a Democrat, recalls that Rossi sent her a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts after she inserted one of his funding requests in the capital budget she was writing in 2002.
Ouch. Except, the AP reported in a recent "Fact Check," it may not be fair to call these things earmarks.
Sen. Patty Murray's campaign and state Democrats say Republican challenger Dino Rossi is a hypocrite for opposing federal earmark spending, pointing to a list of construction projects approved when Rossi was a prominent state senator.
A closer look at the facts shows the charge is off-base.
Who's right? If you want to get down into the trenches on this, the articles linked above are a good place to start. But in the end, it all comes down to what your definition of an earmark is. And if you—shockingly—don't have a working definition of "earmark" in mind, and just want to know whether you're going to keep hearing about this as the campaign goes forward, the answer is: Yes.
“We’re going to keep raising the issue," says Murray spokesperson Julie Edwards. “I think it’s safe to say that Mr. Rossi has a very mixed record when it comes to the projects for his district... What this comes down to is the fact that he has a history here that he has not addressed, and he has not acknowledged, and that he prefers to sidestep whenever anyone asks him about this. Given the emphasis he places on earmarks, it is reasonable to look into his past—and he has still not adequately addressed any of these issues.”