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Few in House disclose 'earmarks'

Lawmakers are never shy about touting the pork-barrel projects they bring home each year -- but most are not thrilled about listing all the "earmarks" they've been fighting for.

Since Citizens Against Government Waste requested in May that lawmakers make that disclosure, only two of New York's 29 House members -- Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds, R-Clarence, and Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-Hudson -- have agreed to do so.

"While the rules of the House do not require such transparency, some members of Congress have voluntarily published their lists, and they should be applauded," said Tom Schatz, the group's president, in a letter to lawmakers. "Providing the request after the appropriation is approved is not sufficient information for taxpayers who deserve a more open and transparent appropriations process."

Most members of Congress disagree.

"I get infinite requests for finite resources," said Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo. "I submit my requests in a priority order, so if I publish all my requests, it forces me to spend the next year defending what I've done."

Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-Fairport, said she won't release all her earmark requests "because there's a great deal of difference between your requested earmarks and the ones you get."

That's no obstacle to Reynolds, who asked for 66 earmarks ranging from $75,000 for the Livingston County Community Services Program to $20.6 million for a "Center for Grape Genetics Research" in Geneva.

"I have nothing to hide on earmarks," Reynolds said.

That's apparently not the case, though, for New York's two senators.

"Appropriations requests from New York constituents and organizations are treated as confidential until a federal action is taken," Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.

A spokesman for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, meanwhile, did not respond to requests for comment about the earmarks.


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