Robert Novak

The Lincoln Club blasts conservative Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia, whose personal earmarks totaled $83 million last year, for defending his pork as "being entrepreneurial about bringing something home." It also assails conservative Rep. Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan, a member of the leadership who has opposed earmark reform and voted on the floor against only one earmark. With his annual earmarks totaling $22.5 million, McCotter declared a year ago, "I will not unilaterally disarm my donor state."

On June 25, however, McCotter apparently felt enough heat to disarm unilaterally, with a surprise announcement that he had requested no earmarks this year. It may be too late for the 42-year-old third-termer, threatened with losing his House Republican Policy Committee chairmanship after only two years if the Lincoln Club of Orange County gets its desired clean sweep.

"We urge other Republican donor groups to reinforce this important beginning," read the club's ultimatum, adding, "It is not credible to ask the American people to return Republicans to the majority when all we offer them is the same group of leaders and policies they so recently rejected."

The statement asserts these leaders "have no idea what we say when we get together" and are "still oblivious to the source of our discontent." Now, if these contributors have their way, it is too late for the leaders. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who began his campaign for re-election in Kentucky by bragging about his earmarks for the state, probably has more to worry about from his Democratic election foe than insurgent Republican senators. House Minority Leader John Boehner, who sponsors no earmarks himself but has not backed reform, faces an all-too serious challenge.

Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.

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