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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

McCain’s Record on Earmarks

Q: Has McCain ever made any earmarks?

A: Not for fiscal year 2008 and never explicitly, though over the course of his career, there are several that might deserve the label.


McCain talks a lot about earmarks, has he ever been involved with a bill where earmarks went to his state?


As we’ve previously discussed, earmarks are "allocations of revenue in a bill that are directed to a specific project or recipient typically in a legislator’s home state or district."
These allocations used to be slipped into bills anonymously, so there was no way to know for certain who the sponsor was. But in late 2007, Congress passed into law the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, which required earmarks to be identified by sponsor.
Armed with this new information, the anti-pork watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste analyzed bills passed for FY2008 and found no earmarks requested by John McCain. And the president of CAGW told us back in January that he didn’t know of any instance in which McCain had asked the Senate Appropriations Committee for an earmark. But there have been three times in the past, in 1992, 2003, 2006, when McCain may have requested, or been influential in securing, an earmark. No definitive evidence was ever found, but  details can be read in our original report.
Furthermore, CAGW has maintained congressional scorecards going back to 1991 rating how lawmakers have voted on earmarks and other government transparency issues. McCain scored 95 percent for his work in the 109th (2005-2006) Congress. He has an 88 percent lifetime rating, which qualifies him as a "taxpayer hero," according to the group.
– Justin Bank


PL 110-81, "Honest Leadership and Open Government Act," Enrolled 18 Sept 2007.