Congress avoids earmark disclosure when funding its private jets
The Pentagon may not have wanted them but members of the House Appropriations Committee managed to fund two additional private jets partially for their own use, while also managing to avoid disclosure of these jets as legislative earmarks.
Roll Call, which reported the funding, noted that the move came after lawmakers scolded the CEOs of auto companies for flying private jets to a congressional hearing, turning private planes into a symbol of Wall Street greed leading to the recession.
In all, the committee funded three Gulfstream jets for the Air Force's passenger air service, which transports VIPs such as members of Congress. The Air Force had asked for one of the planes. The extra two that were funded were specficially assigned for Washington, D.C. area units - the same ones responsible for transporting members of Congress.
The two additional planes cost $132 million. Because the planes were for the Air Force's existing passenger service, the committee didn't consider the funds an earmark, leaving the requesters with anonymity.
Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense told Roll Call that such a move - calling funds a program increase rather than an earmark - is part of a larger trend to avoid public disclosure.