There is nothing inherently wrong with "earmarks," which the Sunlight Foundation describes as "a provision in legislation that directs funds to be spent on specific projects." But in recent years earmarking has become a symbol of the culture of corruption in Washington, used and abused by crooked politicians like Duke Cunningham and Conrad Burns to benefit wealthy benefactors.
The Hill reported yesterday that Hillary Clinton inserted more earmarks into the latest defense spending bill than any other Senator except for Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin. The 26 earmarks, totaling $148.4 million, mostly went to the New York-based defense industry. (For more on Hillary's ties to military contractors, see the Village Voice article "Mama Warbucks.")
These earmarks appear to be legitimate and above board. But that didn't stop the RNC from calling Hillary the "President of Pork" or John McCain from noting that the Pentagon did not request them.
And Hillary is vulnerable on the issue. When the Senate debated lobbying and ethics reforms in January, Clinton voted against requiring public disclosure of earmark sponsors and earmark recipients, and to change the definition of an earmark to include both federal and non-federal projects.