About this project
Until now, you couldn't find out easily which members of Congress had given earmarks to campaign donors. Or how much companies favored with...
Until now, you couldn't find out easily which members of Congress had given earmarks to campaign donors.
Or how much companies favored with defense earmarks spent on lobbying lawmakers.
The Seattle Times spent months compiling data to shine a light on those financial connections.
First, we culled all 2,203 earmarks from the 2008 defense spending bill. We counted only congressionally funded items for which the military hadn't sought a penny.
Then we combined them with a list that Congress created, the product of a new rule that required lawmakers to name each earmark they sponsored. For the House, we entered information from letters from members that identified who benefitted from the earmarks. For the Senate, we relied on press releases, when available, for this information.
We scrutinized each claim, identifying the full name of the entity getting an earmark. We tried — mostly unsuccessfully — to have the military identify the entities we couldn't figure out.
We then searched campaign-finance records from the Federal Election Commission for donations from employees or political action committees from those companies. The search covered almost six years of donations, the election cycle of a senator. We included certain nonprofits in our search, but we did not include military units, business consortiums or most schools and hospitals.
We ultimately found nearly 55,000 matches, which were individually checked to ensure accuracy.
Our research was limited to incumbents and does not reflect contributions to challengers or to presidential campaigns. But we did include contributions to those members who no longer serve in Congress.
Finally, we obtained congressional data on the names of those who lobbied for defense spending and what they were paid, and then linked that information to the recipients of earmarks.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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