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Mar 18th, 2009

On Friday the 13th, MSNBC “Countdown” featured a segment titled “Pork Princess: Bachmann’s Earmark Delusion,” in which anchor Keith Olbermann berated Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann for signing a “No Earmarks” pledge, shamelessly violating her own pledge by requesting millions of dollars in earmarks, and then dishonestly claiming she had not requested any earmarks.

Keith Olbermann 


KEITH OLBERMANN: … Michele Bachmann, Republican congressman from the state of — delusion.


REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: I have not taken earmarks in the last three years.


OLBERMANN: True, unless you would call $3,767,000 worth of earmarks for an earmark for medical equipment and an earmark for new buses for Saint Cloud, Minnesota, or her four other earmarks last year — unless you would call those earmarks. …

And in Worst [Person in the World], we’ll take a trip to Michele Bachmann’s land of make-believe, the place where she can say with a straight face she has never been responsible for an earmark other than $3 million worth of them last year. …

The silver tonight, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann telling the Fox Out of Business Channel that she believes someday we will have an earmark-free spending bill.

“I took a pledge in my own district. I have not taken earmarks in the last three years that I have been in Congress because the system is so corrupt. It is possible to make that pledge.”

It’s possible to make that pledge, but if you are a raging hypocrite like Bachmann, it’s not possible to keep it. The website says Bachmann put in for seven earmarks for fiscal 2008 alone.

She asked for an earmark for $94,000 for a sheriff’s youth program, another earmark for $335,000 for equipment acquisition for a medical center, and another earmark of $803,000 for the replacement of the small buses for the St. Cloud, Minnesota bus line.

Bachmann’s personal earmark total for 2008: $3,767,600.

And, oh, by the way, while she did sign the no earmark pledge sponsored by the Club for Growth for 2008, without evidently knowing what a pledge is, she did not sign it for 2009.


The day before, Think Progress had reported as follows:

Rep. Bachmann Claims to have Taken No-Pork Pledge, But Actually Requested $3 Million in Earmarks in 2008

By Lee Fang
Think Progress
March 12, 2009

On Fox Business yesterday, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) joined the long parade of members of Congress who rail against earmarks while requesting their own. But Bachmann took her hypocrisy a step further, claiming that she has signed an anti-pork pledge:

CLAMAN: How about a no-pork bill? Will that ever be a reality?

BACHMANN: I think it is possible. I took a pledge in my own district. I have not taken earmarks in the last three years that I have been in Congress because the system is so corrupt. It’s possible to make that pledge.

Watch it:

In fact, according to Legistorm, Bachmann has requested 7 earmarks in Fiscal Year 2008 costing tax payers a total of $3,767,600. Some examples:

  • $94,000 for Sheriff’s Youth Program of MN
  • $335,000 for Equipment Acquisition for Northland Medical Center
  • $803,000 for Replacement of Small Buses, St. Cloud Metro Bus

As MSNBC’s David Shuster noted, Bachmann indeed signed the Club for Growth’s ‘No Earmark’ pledge back in 2008. While she clearly broke this pledge, Bachmann’s name is curiously absent from the list of lawmakers making the same pledge for 2009.

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Related reports

On March 13, Michele Bachmann earns an honorable mention on the Hypocrisy Watch segment of David Shuster’s MSNBC “1600 Pennsylvania Avenue” for claiming to oppose earmarks, yet requesting over $3 million in earmarks for her district.

Shuster: “Congressman Bachmann, if you want to claim the system is corrupt, that’s fine, but your own credibility appears to be an issue as well.” (Transcript)

Also on March 13, Michele Bachmann earns a “Worse Person” award in the Worst Person in the World segment of “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” for her claims that she signed a “No Earmarks” pledge while she was still requesting earmarks:

Blue Man in a Red District, in a blog post titled Bachmann Lies About Earmarks, observes:

“These aren’t earmarks to be distraught over. It would appear that these are legitimate needs for the district, yet Bachmann flat out lies about the earmarks.” 

Political Muse at Liberal in the Land of Conservative, in a blog post titled Bachmann a Hypocrite & Worst Person, elaborates:

“You may recall that last year Bachmann was asked by several St. Cloud officials to sponsor an earmark to rebuild the DeSoto Bridge after inspections revealed gusset plate wear similar to that found on the I-35W Bridge. Her answer, No Bridge for You!

“While I completely agree with Blue Man, I have a slightly different question: If you were requesting these earmarks last year, then why did you also decide to deny the request to rebuild a bridge that represents major infrastructure within your district?

“Could it be that you thought these other projects were low profile enough that you could get them under the radar whereas the bridge was high profile and allowed you to play hypocrisy politics with your constituents?”


Further fallout

Finally, on Monday, March 16, Minnesota mainstream media get in on the act:

Bachmann on Defense After Claiming She Did Not Accept Earmarks

Bloggers and pundits are calling the Republican a hypocrite, pointing to money she took for pet projects.

By Kevin Diaz
Star Tribune
March 17, 2009

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, accustomed to playing offense on congressional earmark spending, has been forced to play defense lately.

The Minnesota Republican, an outspoken critic of so-called pork-barrel spending, is embroiled in a blogger-fed television news scrap about nearly $3.8 million in earmarks that went to her Twin Cities suburban district last year.

The controversy, which illustrates the stickiness of the earmark debate, was kindled by Bachmann’s assertion on Fox News last week that she had never participated in the process by which members of Congress fund pet projects, usually within their own districts.

“I have not taken earmarks in the last three years that I’ve been in Congress, because the system is so corrupt,” Bachmann told a national television audience.

Bloggers and TV pundits, citing a fact-check by the watchdog website LegiStorm, immediately pounced and called her a hypocrite.

Bachmann was among the sponsors of seven fiscal 2008 earmarks worth over $3.76 million, some of which had been publicized before in the Star Tribune and other publications. Among the most notable spending projects: $803,600 to replace metro buses in St. Cloud; $335,000 for new equipment at the Northland Medical Center; and $94,000 for a sheriff’s youth program. The last two were “solo” requests, meaning they had no other congressional sponsors.

After taking a beating in the liberal blogosphere and on MSNBC, Bachmann, a frequent guest on conservative cable television shows, went back on Fox over the weekend to rail against earmarks. But this time, she acknowledged her own record. “I have taken earmarks when I first came in,” she said. [Note: See video below.]

She also emphasized that she has taken a “no earmarks” pledge, as has Rep. John Kline, another Minnesota Republican.

Neither of them requested any of the $7.7 billion in earmarks contained in the 2009 spending bill that they criticized President Obama for signing last week. Both, however, acknowledge taking earmarks in the past.

Bachmann’s pledge, contained on her congressional website, was made at the end of 2007, her first year in Congress. By that time, the earmarks for the federal government’s 2008 budget year were already on the books.

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Featured column: The Empress of Exaggeration

Bonus video: The Sultans of Swing



On March 18, WCCO political reporter Pat Kessler fact-checked the Bachmann pork “no-earmark” story on the “Reality Check” segment of WCCO 4 News at 10.

Watch video: Bachmann’s Earmarks (02:17)

Reality Check: Bachmann’s Earmarks

Pat Kessler reporting on WCCO

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is on the defensive, after claiming she’s never received one of those controversial earmark projects.

But in fact, Bachmann was in favor of earmarks before she was against them. As recently as a week ago, Bachmann claimed she hasn’t taken any earmarks during the time she’s been in Congress.

And it’s just not true.

“I took a pledge in my own district,” Bachmann told Fox Business News on March 11. “I have not taken earmarks in the last three years that I’ve been in congress, because the system is so corrupt.”

This is FALSE.

According to the Washington watchdog group Legistorm, in 2008, Bachmann requested seven earmarks by herself or with others totaling $3,767,600.

She requested two solo earmarks totaling $429,000. The solo earmarks include $94,000 for a sheriff’s youth program and $335,000 for hospital equipment at Northland Medical Center.

These are projects Bachmann didn’t talk about when she campaigned for re-election against earmarks in Washington.

“These projects (earmarks) get what’s called airdropped into a bill,” said candidate Bachmann during a debate [YouTube video] in October 2008. “They’ve never seen the light of day. They’ve never withstood a committee hearing, or a markup, or an examination.”

Here’s what you NEED TO KNOW.

Bachmann requested those pork projects during 2008, the year Democrats took over Congress.

According to The Heritage Foundation, in 2008 the House and Senate approved 11,737 earmarks, which is the second highest number in Congressional history.

The record of most earmarks: the Republican Congress of 2005, which approved 13,997 earmarks.

Bachmann has since backed off her no-earmarks comments.

“I have taken earmarks,” Bachmann told Fox News on March 14 [YouTube video]. “When I first came in I put a couple in for my district. I took a no-earmarks pledge last year.”

It is TRUE that in 2008 Bachmann signed the Club for Growth no-earmarks pledge, the same year she requested and accepted earmarks.

This year, she’s one of only a few members of Congress who did not have a pork project in the spending bill just signed by President Barack Obama.

That’s Reality Check.

Rep. Michele Bachmann statement about earmarks:

“After seeing how corrupt and broken the earmarking process is in her first year in Congress, Congresswoman Bachmann was part of a bipartisan group of Members to pledge not to request earmarks. She kept that that pledge for 2008 and she intends to stick to that pledge again this year. Until the process respects the taxpayers who foot the bill and puts merit before politics, Congresswoman Bachmann will continue to work for reform.”

Resources for this Reality Check:

Video: Bachmann On Fox News About Obama Signing Spending Bill 
Legistorm: Rep. Michele Bachmann’s Earmarks Requested 
YouTube: Bachmann: Our Earmark System MUST Be Reformed 
2008 Second-Highest Number of Earmarks in History 
Club for Growth No-Earmarks Pledge 
Taxpayers for Common Sense Complete Earmarks List


3/19/09 Update

Bachmann added to House Republicans Hypocrisy Hall of Fame

DCCC Republican Hypocrisy Hall of Fame

Committee Challenges Bachmann Claims on Earmarks

By Larry Bivins
Gannett Washington Bureau
March 19, 2009

WASHINGTON — A Democratic campaign committee added Rep. Michele Bachmanns name today to a list of lawmakers the group says are hypocrites.

Bachmann was placed on the list after it was reported that she had sought $3.7 million in earmarks for 2008. The Republican, who represents the 6th Congressional District that includes St. Cloud, told a national television audience last week that she had not accepted any in the past three years.

“Congresswoman Bachmann is the newest member of the Republican Hypocrisy Hall of Fame,” said Gabby Adler, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Bachmann condemned the practice of requesting earmarks and called it corrupt, while hiding the truth about the $3.7 million in earmarks she requested in Washington.”

Dave Dziok, a spokesman for Bachmann, accused the Democratic committee of playing “fast and loose” with the facts.

The Hall of Fame lists Republicans whom the DCCC says have praised the benefits of the economic recovery package and the omnibus spending bill even though they voted against those measures. …

Bachmann has appeared frequently on cable television shows as a strident foe of earmarks and wasteful government spending. She voted against the $410 billion omnibus spending bill for 2009 largely, she said, because it contained $7.7 billion in funding for more than 8,500 projects. She had no earmarks in the bill.

“I have not taken earmarks in the last three years that I’ve been in Congress, because the system is so corrupt,” Bachmann said on Fox Business.

But LegisStorm, an online government watchdog, checked its earmark database and discovered items for 2008 with Bachmann’s name attached to them. Two of the requests — $335,000 for new equipment at the Northland Medical Center and $95,000 for a sheriff’s program — she made independently.

Dziok explained that Bachmann sought the earmarks during her first three months in office in 2007 to beat the deadline for submitting requests to the House Appropriations Committee, which has jurisdiction over spending legislation. He said she decided by the end of that year to not seek earmarks “after she saw how corrupt and broken the appropriations earmarking system was.”

12 Responses to “The Princess of Pork”
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