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Duckworth:"Outrageous Earmark" says "A Lot"

Location: Lombard, IL

Duckworth: latest "Outrageous Earmark" says "A Lot" about the need to end controversial spending practice

$950,000 for a parking facility in Nebraska leaves taxpayers looking for a better spot

Congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth today announced the winner of her "Outrageous Earmark of the Week" award: a $950,000 parking facility at the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska. The earmark was included in the FY 2006 Transportation-Treasury-HUD spending bill.

"We need to shed light on these special projects that are steering the budget in the wrong direction," Duckworth said. "Close to a million dollars has gone to a parking lot in Nebraska while the national deficit is spinning out of control at the expense of taxpayers. We need to end the practice of earmarking so that projects like this can be debated on their merits rather then stuffed into larger spending bills."

"As long as Congress keeps using earmarks, America's taxpayers will have to keep feeding the meter," said Duckworth.

The use of earmarks has increased substantially in recent years, now accounting for more than $60 billion in annual spending.

"Cutting earmarks will help us reduce the deficit—and it's a matter of ethics. These special projects have been at the center of controversy on Capitol Hill and are used as trade- offs with lobbyists," she said. "We need to clean up Congress enact real ethics reform."

Duckworth launched the "Outrageous Earmark of the Week" award two weeks ago and has been highlighting on her campaign Website examples of pork-barrel spending that are costing taxpayers billions of dollars each year while contributing to growing scandals.

The first winner was a $500,000 earmark added to the 2006 Transportation/Treasury/HUD Appropriations Bill (HR 3058) for the Sparta Teapot Museum in Sparta, North Carolina. The second winner was $234,000 for the National Wild Turkey Federation in Edgefield, South Carolina, which was included in the 2006 Agriculture Appropriations Act (HR 2744).

Duckworth has endorsed the elimination of earmarks as part of comprehensive ethics reform, including a ban on lobbyist-paid travel, outlawing the purchase of gifts and meals for members of Congress, and establishing an independent commission to oversee congressional ethics.

The issue of earmarks has emerged as one of the key contrasts between the two candidates in Illinois' 6th district.

Her opponent, personal injury attorney and state Senator Peter Roskam, has staunchly refused to join her opposition to earmarks—despite the growing evidence of the connection between earmarks and scandals involving lawmakers and lobbyists and their impact on the deficit. For example, in a May interview with MSNBC, Roskam said he would be "unwilling" to give up earmarks. He has made similar comments in multiple interviews.

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