Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. is requesting more than a quarter-billion dollars in earmarks to pay for projects in his home state of Delaware in fiscal 2009, but Republicans want to know when he will release the wish lists from the rest of his 35-year Senate career.
And they’re pointing to the words of a top official in Sen. Barack Obama’s own campaign to push for the information.
In March, when Mr. Obama released his 2005 and 2006 earmark requests, his communications director, Robert Gibbs, called on then-rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to do the same.
“If Senator Clinton will not agree to join Senator Obama in releasing her earmark requests, voters should ask why she doesn’t believe they have the right to know … .” he said.
Republican National Committee spokesman Danny Diaz said Mr. Obama should hold Mr. Biden to the same standard of transparency.
“For decades, Biden has sought millions upon millions in earmarks and has yet to disclose those requests so that the American people can review his special-interest track record for themselves,” he said.
“Instead of talking a good game on the stump, Obama should follow through and ask Biden to release his earmarks.”
David Wade, a spokesman for Mr. Biden derided the criticism as “Republican hypocrisy” and said Sen. John McCain’s running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, requested “more pork per person than any governor in America.”
“Joe Biden believes in transparency, which is why long before he was the vice-presidential nominee he’d listed the investments he’d brought home to Delaware right on his Senate Web site, along with last year’s earmark requests,” Mr. Wade said.
“It’s the same reason why he’s released his tax returns. These Republicans are as desperate as they are divisive, and every time they try to distort the record we’re going to hit them back with the truth.”
Criticized by some as pork-barrel spending, earmarks are the special spending provisions members of Congress slip into larger spending bills to direct money to home-state projects.
Earmarks are turning into a big issue in the presidential campaign.
Mr. McCain says he’s never sought an earmark in more than two decades in Congress. He calls earmarks wasteful and promises to crack down on earmark abuses as president.
However, Democrats point out that Mrs. Palin asked for $197 million in earmarks for 31 projects as governor. And as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, she sought $27 million in earmarks, according to figures compiled by D.C.-based Taxpayers for Common Sense.
Republicans are especially interested in scouring Mr. Biden’s old earmark requests for any ties to clients of Mr. Biden’s lobbyist son, R. Hunter Biden. The younger Biden halted his lobbying work last week, less than a month after his father became Mr. Obama’s running mate. Mr. Obama refuses to take money from federal lobbyists, though he does take contributions from past lobbyists, lobbying-firm partners and statehouse lobbyists.