Thursday, August 17, 2006

Where's That Money Going!

This week an open source journalism project was lanched to investigate congressional earmarks--line-items inserted into a bill to direct funds to a specific project or recipient without any public hearing or review. There are currently 1,867 secret spending earmarks worth more than $500 million in the Labor-Health and Human Services appropriation bill now before Congress. The Sunlight Foundation along with Citizens Against Government Waste, Porkbusters.com, Human Events Online, Club for Growth, the Heritage Foundation, and the Examiner Newspapers mean to do something about it! They have have pulled together a database of the earmarks, complete with an interactive map, and they are asking you to help make sense of the information. An Examiner editorial explains how:

"Check out the earmarks for your state and then call your congressman and ask if he or she sponsored any of your state’s earmarks. If the answer is yes, ask why the congressman’s name isn’t on the earmark. If you recognize the institution designated to receive the earmarked tax dollars, call them and ask them what they intend to do with your money.

Then email us at info@examiner.com with the subject line “Earmarks” and tell us what you found out. The Examiner will be asking more questions about who got the earmarks and why, so your information could be very important. You will be part of an army of citizen journalists determined to shine some much-needed light on spending decisions made behind closed doors by powerful Members of Congress."

It's rare to see Democrats and Republicans, professional and amateur investigators pooling resources. Find out more here.

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