June 27, 2010; Source: USA Today | Over the past three years, according to research done by USA Today, $89 million dollars has been earmarked by federal lawmakers to go to nonprofit groups that they, themselves founded. This year alone Republican Representative Hal Rogers of Kentucky is responsible for $18.9 million in earmarks to nonprofit groups he founded and, by contrast, $750,000 to nonprofits he did not found.

While not illegal, the practice is at least extremely questionable, especially when close friends and relatives are involved in running the nonprofit or when the charity is named for the congressperson, a practice one legislator likens to “twice cooked pork”. The article points to the fact that two of the nonprofits Rogers earmarked funds for are run by former Rogers aide Karen Engle at a salary higher than $125,000 in 2008. Additionally “the director of Rogers’ district office is on the governing board of one group and a former board member of two others.

Thirteen members of the charities’ boards of directors gave Rogers’ campaign and political action committee more than $41,000 in the past 10 years, Federal Election Commission records show. Five of the six non-profits are housed at the Center for Rural Development, the Rogers-founded organization that runs the summer camps named after the congressman. The center’s board of directors includes Clay Davis, a friend and business partner and the first treasurer of Rogers’ political action committee, Help America’s Leaders.”

This article also covers the earmarks of Representative Chaka Fattah of Philadelphia who has similarly blessed his former staff people with, according to this article, positions in nonprofits he has helped to found and fund through earmarks.—Ruth McCambridge