It has been nearly two weeks since our first post on earmarks, and there are some interesting updates to report. The Sunlight Foundation has continued to employ new and innovative tools in its quest to expose earmarks, which often glide into law without legislative or executive review. Sunlight, which cosponsors Congresspedia with the Center for Media and Democracy, has teamed up with Human Events Online, Citizens Against Government Waste, Porkbusters.org, The Heritage Foundation, The Club for Growth, Townhall.com, and the Washington Examiner (and Mark Tapscott) to sift through the 1,867 earmarks which were inserted into the 2007 Labor-Health and Human Services appropriations bill (H.R. 5647) (an increase from only 51 last year). The collaborative effort has led to the development of a comprehensive database of the earmarks, tracking the money to the designated state and program.
"Agencies across government are under increasing pressure to sway public opinions -- either to win funding from Congress, to satisfy customers, to recruit new employees, to educate the public about new programs, to minimize fallout from controversial policies," writes Mollie Ziegler. With more U.S. federal agencies "applying sophisticated public relations tools and tactics," government spending on PR and marketing services skyrocketed from $39 million in 2001 to more than $400 million for 2006 to date.