Even though he has the least amount of political experience in Louisiana's congressional delegation, Congressman Anh "Joseph" Cao, R-New Orleans, is second in line when it comes to scoring earmarks in the House: 37 of them worth $198 million. That's according to a database compiled by LegiStorm, a D.C.-based nonprofit, covering fiscal year 2008 to present day.
The issue of earmarks cuts both ways. Good government types view them as pork or pet projects that are slipped into the federal budget, while lawmakers argue it's sometimes the easiest way to bring the proverbial bacon back to their districts. Louisiana's two senators take the latter position. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-New Orleans, leads the entire Bayou State earmarking pack with 570 earmarks totaling $3.1 billion. (That's roughly the same amount as Louisiana's budget shortfall over the next two years.) Junior Sen. David Vitter, R-Metairie, follows with 379 earmarks worth $2.6 billion.
The rest of the House delegation breaks down as follows: Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-Quitman, 168 earmarks, $501 million; Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-Napoleonville, 72 earmarks, $156 million; Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, 39, $97 million; Rep. John Fleming, R-Shreveport, 13, $49 million; Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Metairie, 27, $19 million; and Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, zero. To explore these earmarks further, visit www.legistorm.com/earmarks.html. — Jeremy Alford