Washington Watch, one of the best political watchdogs around, takes Illinois Senator Dick Durbin to task for disingenuous comments made about the supposed transparency of his earmark practices:
Here’s Senator Durbin, quoted in a Hill article:
“There is full disclosure in my office of every single request for an appropriation. We then ask those who have made the requests to have a full disclaimer of their involvement in the appropriation, so it’s there for the public record. This kind of transparency is virtually unprecedented.”
Take a look at Senator Durbin’s earmark disclosures. Yes, you can read through them, one by one. But can you make a list of recipients? Can you add up the totals? Can you search for common words in the brief explanations for each earmark? Can you make a map showing where recipients of Senator Durbin’s requests are?
No, no, no, and no.
That’s because Senator Durbin puts his request disclosure out as scanned PDFs. Someone on his staff takes a letter and puts it on a scanner, making a PDF document of the image. It’s totally useless if you want to use the data for anything. Notably, he doesn’t even include the addresses of his earmark recipients.