Republican Earmarxists Try to Smear Pork Opponent

Desperate, pork-loving Republicans turn on one of their own

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Rep. John Campbell is under attack from members of his own party for his tough stance on earmarks. Republican earmarxists, angered by Campbell's criticism of pork-barrel spending, are accusing the California Republican of hypocrisy for introducing a bill they claim is an earmark. Campbell has since pulled the legislation.

There is some dispute as to whether Campbell's bill amounted to the definition of an "earmark" because it was a stand-alone bill, which followed the normal legislative process. But because it would have authorized the expenditure of $2.5 million for a desalination project in his district, it was close enough to prompt Campbell to withdraw it from consideration.

Campbell's decision to pull the bill came on the same day, Feb. 12, he visited the Heritage Foundation, where he attacked Republican earmarks and criticized Republicans for not going far enough in their pursuit of reform. The smear campaign against Campbell dates back to at least to that day. I know because I received an e-mail tip from a Republican Hill staffer who prodded me to question Campbell about the desalination project; I didn't take the bait.

Feeling unsatisfied two weeks later, someone in the GOP ranks leaked the information to The Hill, which reported the story Wednesday night.

This isn't the first time an earmark reformer has faced these kinds of attacks. Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) came under fire from Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) in 2003 for defense-related earmarks; the episode served as a "turning point" in Flake's quest to end wasteful government spending, according to his spokesman.

Campbell seems to have learned a lesson as well. He told The Hill he wouldn't let earmarxists distract him from reform. Of the desalination project, he said, "Even if it's totally right I shouldn't do it before the process is reformed. ... No bill is more important than [earmark reform]."

Campbell did the right thing when he pulled the bill. Yet even though he made the correct decision, Republican earmarxists couldn't resist the opportunity to attack. I'd expect this shallowness from Democrats, but for Republicans to turn on one of their own confirms that pork-loving lawmakers are getting pretty desperate.

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