By Adam Andrezewski for Real Clear Policy
Earmarks are back, Congress’ latest spending bill has more than $16 billion in earmarks. It includes marks from Congressman Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) that went directly to the metropolitan government of Nashville and Davidson County, where his brother John Cooper is mayor.
Earmarks are special funding mechanisms that allow federal lawmakers to designate funds for local projects in their states or districts. The so-called “currency of corruption” marks were once banned but lawmakers voted to bring them back in 2021.
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Auditors at OpenTheBooks.com analyzed a database of federal earmarks and found that Congressman Cooper authorized two earmarks, one worth $2.2 million for unspecified “facilities and equipment” and another worth $539,000 for an “urban forestry project.” Both go directly to Metro Nashville, his brother John Cooper’s unit of government.
Congressman Cooper, who is retiring at the end of this term, committed a total of $17.9 million to 10 endowments in his district, including Fisk University’s John R. Louis Center for Social Justice – $4 million for the Race Relations Building and $2.5 million for the Moves & Grooves Center for Arts and Innovation. In total, Tennessee’s delegation to Congress brought in a total of $98.7 million for the state.
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Dedicating money to a family member’s government entity may be unethical, not illegal, which shows why earmarks are liable to abuse. Taxpayers in New Mexico and Montana shouldn’t be funding the government in Nashville, but with the rollback of earmarks, citizens across the country are paying the price.
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Syndicated with permission from RealClearWire.
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