There are reasons to dismiss earmark-reform crusader and Arizona Republican Rep. Jeff Flake. For one, his name is Jeff Flake. He also has biggish blond hair and every couple of weeks he introduces another resolution calling for investigation into earmark corruption, each one killed the moment it hits the floor. He trotted out his last one on April Fool’s Day. It too died straight away. Speaker Pelosi has basically mocked him as an unserious reformer or showboater or both.
But Flake and his growing list of lawmaker-supporters won’t go away, partly because he’s right on this.
The big business of making campaign contributions and landing earmarks is corrupt. The ongoing enormous PMA defense-contracting scandal, the center of Flake’s crusade, has made that as clear as ever. And the present outrageously weak laws governing the earmark trade guarantee corruption will continue.
Flake, who keeps introducing his resolutions in order to draw attention to the topic and get lawmakers on the record for and against, won over all the GOP representatives early on and he’s gaining support among Democrats. His first resolution of the session, floated in February, won 17 votes in favor from Democrats. The April Fool’s resolution drew 27 Democratic votes.
Freshman Democratic representatives from conservative districts have started peeling away from the majority to back Flake. So predictably have Reps. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., and Barron Hill, D-Ind., who co-chair the Blue Dog coalition.
So far, none of the Colorado Democrats have gone Flakey, not even Betsy Markey, representative of the conservative 4th district. Neither has Ed Perlmutter, who gave $2000 in PMA campaign contributions to the Colorado Boys and Girls clubs as news of the PMA FBI investigation broke.
Colorado Republican representatives Lamborn (also tainted by the PMA scandal) and Coffman have voted in favor of the Flake crusade.