- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 26, 2008

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner has refused to find a new home for his anti-earmark Web site after the House administrative officer said it violated chamber rules.

The office of House Chief Administrative Officer Dan Beard, which authorizes House Web sites, said the domain name for Mr. Boehner’s site — earmark reform.house.gov — violates rules that require house.gov addresses be “recognizably derivative or representative of the name of the member or the name of the office sponsoring the Web site,” said office spokesman Jeff Ventura.

It also fails to meet criteria that house.gov domain names be free from slogans and that they don’t “imply in any manner that the House endorses or favors any specific commercial product, commodity or service,” Mr. Ventura said.

Mr. Boehner said the rules don’t apply to House members with leadership positions. He added he will continue to operate the site opposing pork-barrel spending projects, which debuted two weeks ago, until he gets a more detailed explanation from Mr. Beard regarding his decision to force the site off the house.gov domain.

“Changing its address now will inevitably hamper the effectiveness of the new website, much to the convenience of the majority that runs the House,” said Mr. Boehner in a letter Thursday to Mr. Beard.

The site includes press releases, video links, news articles and comments from the Ohio Republican on House Republican efforts to overhaul earmarks — pet projects that members of Congress insert into legislation. Mr. Boehner’s contact information is included at the page’s bottom.

Mr. Beard’s office in August approved the site’s domain name. The office yesterday declined to say why it had changed its position.

Rep. Robert A. Brady, Pennsylvania Democrat and chairman of the House Administration Committee, which drafted the Web domain rules, said there is no partisan motivation behind Mr. Beard’s orders.

“This domain name contravenes a House Administration Committee regulation adopted in 1999, at a time when you yourself sat on the committee,” said Mr. Brady in a letter yesterday to Mr. Boehner.

“I can assure you that it was not until your site was launched that committee staff became aware of the violation of the committee policy and conveyed that information” to Mr. Beard’s office.

Mr. Ventura said Mr. Boehner is free to keep the site active as long he transfers it off the house.gov domain. It has received more than 6,200 “hits” since it became active Feb. 12, said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel.

The office of the Chief Administrative Officer has begun a review of all House Web addresses to ensure compliance, Mr. Ventura said.

The flap over the site comes at a time when House Republicans, eager to reclaim the party’s reputation for fiscal responsibility, increasingly have tried to portray themselves as earmark reformers.

Mr. Boehner used a procedural move on the House floor earlier this month to force Democrats into voting on a measure to ban earmarks. Democrats rejected the measure, calling it a publicly stunt. Democratic leaders added that under Republican rule, pork spending jumped from $12 billion in 1999 to $29 billion in 2006.

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