Democrats Try to Shut Down Republicans' Earmark Reform Web Site

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:32 PM EDT

( - House Republicans are blasting Democratic leaders for ordering the shutdown of an "earmark reform" Web site that was launched two weeks ago as part of a Republican effort to "change the way Washington spends taxpayer dollars."

On Feb. 12, House Republicans announced that their new Web site would serve as a hub for news and information regarding House GOP efforts to hold Democrats to their earmark-reform promises.

But nine days later, on Feb. 21, House Republican Leader John Boehner (Ohio) was told the Web site ( must be shut down and moved to a different location with a different domain name.

Boehner promptly wrote to House Chief Administrative Officer Daniel Beard, questioning his sudden decision to shut down the Web site he'd approved this past summer.

"I am writing today to register my protest over this belated change, and to request a detailed explanation of the events that led your office to make this dramatic reversal," Boehner wrote last week. "Changing its address now will inevitably hamper the effectiveness of the new website," he said -- "much to the convenience" of House Democrats.

Boehner noted that the "shut down" order came just days after The Hill newspaper reported that the freshman Democratic class has been "showered in pork" by Democratic leaders. The shutdown order also coincides with Democrat Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) being named "Porker of the Year by a taxpayer watchdog group (see story).

House Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have refused to join Republicans in supporting a moratorium on all earmarks, and the Republicans' Web site is an effort to keep the pressure on them.

"The leaders of both parties in the House have discussed the need for greater transparency and 'sunshine' in Congress," especially when it comes to spending taxpayers' money, Boehner said.

"By serving as a public clearinghouse for real-time information on legislative efforts to reform the earmark practice in Congress, contributes to this goal and helps to increase accountability in the use of taxpayer funds.

"Transferring the website to a different address now -- nearly two weeks after its successful launch -- will inevitably cause confusion for visitors and discourage some from continuing to utilize the website as a regular resource," Boehner said.

On Monday, press reports said Boehner is refusing to change the earmarkreform Web site's domain name.

According to Roll Call, Boehner is waiting for House Chief Administrative Officer Daniel Beard to explain his sudden change of mind.

"Mr. Beard's office has been thoroughly contradictory on this," Roll Callquoted Boehner spokesman Michael Steel as saying. "In August, they approved the URL. Now, as the site is attracting attention ... they say it is against House rules."

See Earlier Story:
House Republicans Launch Earmark Reform Website (Feb 13, 2008)

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