Jim Inhofe courts tea party on earmarks

November 13, 2010

By MANU RAJU, Politico

Tea party activists are stepping up their involvement in an internal Senate GOP battle over whether to ban earmarks – and Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe is pushing back aggressively.

Inhofe has engaged in a behind-the-scenes effort aimed at convincing tea party groups of the value of earmarks, including by circulating a 20-page document that makes the case that it’s Congress’ job to appropriate money and that a number of projects are rooted in the national and local interest.

The 75-year-old, four-term senator, who boasts of being the most conservative senator, has been relentless, according to several accounts.

Moments after the Tea Party Patriots issued a missive to 200,000 members backing the earmark ban, Inhofe tried to reach one of the group’s leaders on her cell phone. When he couldn’t connect, he tried again. When that was unsuccessful, his staff sent text messages urging her to call him back.

Finally, one of the group’s co-founders, Mark Meckler, returned Inhofe’s phone call Wednesday. It was a brief conversation, where Inhofe said he wanted to provide Meckler’s group with an essay entitled “the secret about earmarks” that said eliminating them “won’t save taxpayers a single dime.” And he urged Meckler to give the essay to former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, who is the chairman of the tea party-aligned Freedom Works.

Meckler said in an interview that the phone call was “bizarre,” adding that “we normally don’t have a lot of direct contact with senators.”

Matt Dempsey, a spokesman for Inhofe, said that the senator has been making calls to several different leaders of tea party groups in advance of next week’s vote.

“These are friends,” Dempsey said. “And he’s not shy about making his case.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1110/45017.html#ixzz155nyFwjj

1 Comment - what are your thoughts?

  • Rich says:

    Really? Banning earmarks won’t save the taxpayers a single dime? I can’t believe that, but even if it were true, it would make every member of Congress more accountable for every dime that IS spent because there would be no “hidden dimes” in a bill to appropriate monies to projects that have NOTHING to do with the bill to which they are attached.

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