The ACRU Joins the Conservative Action Project in Saying 'No' to Earmarks


ACRU Staff


January 31, 2017

Last week the Conservative Action Project (CAP) released a Memo for the Movement entitled Stop the Return of Earmarks! An PDF version of this memo can be found HERE. ACRU Chairman and CEO Susan Carleson signed this memo urging House members to uphold the ban on earmarks.

Memo for the Movement

Stop the Return of Earmarks!

January 26, 2017

Updated January 30, 2017

Washington, DC

We congratulate the Senate Republican Conference for its vote on January 10th to keep the ban on earmarks. Sadly, some House Republicans still want to bring back earmarks in appropriations bills and thus bring back the old ways of Washington. It’s hard to think of a single practice in the political arena that better represents the “swamp” of Washington than earmarking. Earmarks are cronyism in its purest form and erode Americans’ faith in their elected officials and system of representative government. We urge the House to follow the Senate’s lead and also maintain its ban on earmarks.

Some Americans may know just how the practice works, and how bad it is: a politically connected donor to a congressman, or perhaps a local political leader on whom the congressman relies for support, requests federal taxpayer money for a particular project in the congressman’s district. The congressman then makes the earmark request, not because he has explored all other projects in the nation and concluded that the one in his district is miraculously the worthiest, but primarily because it will bring political benefit to him and those people or groups who support (or could potentially support) him, both financially and electorally.

Most commonly, earmark requests are granted based on political seniority and/or electoral vulnerability, rather than on any degree of merit. It’s an unscrupulous practice, and Congress was right to stop it. In fact, Vice-President-Elect Pence was instrumental in stopping earmarks during his time in Congress.

Earmarks are often used to “grease the skids” for higher federal spending. That is, the Appropriations Committees and the leaders in both houses of Congress insert earmarks into big-spending bills in order to entice particular Members of Congress to vote for bills they might otherwise not vote for. The leaders deliberately put Members into the difficult position of choosing between fiscal responsibility and special projects for their constituents. Furthermore, and worse, many earmarks are for wasteful or unconstitutional projects, e.g., local matters that should not receive federal taxpayer dollars at all. For example, federal taxpayers in Indiana should not have to pay for the repair of a local one-lane overpass in California, nor should federal taxpayers in North Carolina have to pay for bike-path beautification in New Mexico.

The use of all taxpayer funds should be considered on the merits through regular order, first through congressional authorizing committees in open sessions, then through congressional appropriations committees in open sessions, and then on the floors of both houses of Congress with significant advance public notice and the ability to amend or eliminate any such spending. And once such spending is enacted, Congress should conduct rigorous oversight to ensure that there is no improper use of the funds. Congress has much to do if it is to regain control over the wasteful spending by executive branch agencies, and that should be its primary goal, rather than self-serving, politically directed spending of the American taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars.

We suggest the following steps for the House of Representatives to stop a return to congressional earmarking:

  • No Special Meeting. Press reports indicate that House Republicans intend to hold a special meeting by March of this year to discuss how earmarks could be “reformed” and thus returned to practice. House Republican Leadership should call off this meeting and declare that the earmark ban will remain in force.
  • Accept a Transparency Challenge. Even the Members of Congress who want to bring back earmarks know that the issue is politically risky. That is why the meetings to discuss bringing them back have been secret and why the planned future meeting will be secret. If House Republicans feel they must proceed with their special meeting on earmarks, then House Republican Leadership should ensure that the meeting is publicly announced at least a week in advance and is covered live on TV and Internet video stream. In fact, House Republicans should hold all deliberations about a return to earmarking in public and on TV/livestream-and cast any related votes in the same public way.

If these efforts above fail, we would then urge President Trump to veto any bill that (a) contains earmarks, (b) refers to an external list of earmarks (i.e., a list of projects not included in the legislative text), or (c) is or is expected to be accompanied by an external list of earmarks not in the legislative text.

We look forward to Conservative-Movement-wide collaboration on this important matter.

The Honorable Edwin Meese III

Former Attorney General

President Ronald Reagan

The Honorable Becky Norton Dunlop

Chairman, Conservative Action Project

Former White House Advisor, President Ronald Reagan

David Bozell



Cleta Mitchell, Esq.

Conservative Attorney

The Honorable T. Kenneth Cribb, Jr.

Former Domestic Advisor

President Ronald Reagan

Erick Erickson


The Resurgent

Diana Banister

President and Partner

Shirley & Banister Public Affairs

Alfred S. Regnery


Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund

Michael A. Needham

Chief Executive Officer

Heritage Action for America

The Honorable Mike Spence

Founding President

Conservative Republicans of California

Haley Martin


The Martin Foundation

Jack Park

Conservative Activist and Donor

Tim LeFever

Chairman of the Board

Capitol Resource Institute

Bishop E.W. Jackson


STAND Action, Inc.

Adam Brandon



Susan A. Carleson

Chairman and CEO

American Civil Rights Union

L. Brent Bozell


Media Research Center

Allen J. Hebert


American-Chinese Fellowship

Richard H. Wright


Ren Broekhuizen

Conservative Activist and Donor

Elsa Prince Broekhuizen


EDP Management Company, LLC

The Honorable James C. Miller III

Former Director of OMB

President Ronald Reagan

Willes K. Lee


National Federation of Republican Assemblies

Lee A. Beaman

Chief Executive Officer

Beaman Automotive

Joseph R. Gregory

Chairman and CEO

Gregory Management Co.

James N. Clymer, Esq.

Clymer Conrad, P.C.

Joseph A. Morris

Morris & De La Rosa

Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D

The Crouse Institute

Lou Cordia

Cordia and Associates

Craig Shirley

Reagan biographer

Presidential historian

Andresen Blom

Executive Director

Grassroot Hawaii Action, Inc.

Thomas A. Schatz


Citizens Against Government Waste

The Honorable Donald J. Devine

Former Director, U.S. Office of Personnel Management under Ronald Reagan and Senior Scholar,

The Fund for American Studies

Rick Manning


Americans for Limited Government

C. Preston Noell III


Tradition, Family, Property, Inc.

Tricia Erickson


Angel Pictures & Publicity, Inc.

Floyd Brown


Western Center for Journalism

James L. Martin


60 Plus Association

Kay R. Daly


Coalition for a Fair Judiciary

Linwood Bragan

Executive Director

CapStand Council for Policy & Ethics

Matt Mackowiak

Executive Director

Fight For Tomorrow

Rebecca Hagelin

Board of Directors, FamilyTalk

Secretary, Council for National Policy

Judson Phillips


Tea Party Nation

Neil Siefring

Vice President

Hilltop Advocacy, LLC

J.T. Mastranadi

Vice President for Governmental Affairs

Citizens United

The Honorable Mike Hill

Former Member

Florida State Representative

John C. Bradburne


Bradburne Consulting, LLC

Todd W. Herrick


Bob Adams


Revive America PAC

Randy M. Long, JD, CFP®, CExP™

Long Business Advisors, LLC

Mark Fitzgibbons

President of Corporate Affairs

American Target Advertising

Belden Bell


Heritage Legacy Society

Terrence M. Scanlon

Retired President

Capital Research Center

Peter J. Thomas


Americans for Constitutional Liberty

Quin Hillyer

Veteran conservative columnist

David McIntosh


Club for Growth

Robert K. Fischer

Meeting Coordinator

Conservatives of Faith

David Williams


Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Melissa Ortiz

Founder & Principal

Able Americans

Jenny Beth Martin


Tea Party Patriots

William W. Pascoe, III


Antietam Communications

Ted Baehr



Trent England

David & Ann Brown Distinguished Fellow

Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs

Grover Norquist


Americans for Tax Reform

Gary L. Bauer


American Values

The Honorable Ken Cuccinelli

President, Senate Conservatives Fund

Former Attorney General of Virginia

Herman Cain


Kevin Freeman

NSCI Institute

Eli Lehrer


R Street

Russell Ramsland


Park Cities/Preston Hollow Leadership Forum

Col Francis X. De Luca USMCR(Ret)


Civitas Institute

Ellen Grigsby

Director of Institutional Partnerships

Open Doors USA

Dr. Randy Brinson


Optimum Impact, LLC

Dr. James C. Dobson

Founder & President

Dr. James Dobson’s FamilyTalk

Pete Sepp

President, National Taxpayers Union &

NTU Foundation

Reverend Ren Broekhuizen

Retired Pastor



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