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Investigation: Congressional Pet Projects —Earmarks— Cost Taxpayers $16 Billion in 2023

By Adam Andrzejewski

Will this presidential election be the most important in American history?

Investigation by Adam Andrzejewski originally published by and

In 2021, earmarks returned to Congress. The practice was banned for a decade due to its tendency to fuel corruption, but has since been embraced on a bipartisan basis, leading to extraordinary spending on thousands of pet projects across the country. Open the Books mapped $16 billion worth of earmarks across 7,509 projects in FY2023, and found rampant waste and abuse.

Earmarks are special grants that lawmakers can give directly to constituents or organizations in their districts or states. While rules have changed slightly for the next fiscal year, in FY 2023, House members were allowed 15 earmarks that in total couldn’t exceed more than 1% of net discretionary spending. The Senate had the same 1% cap across the board, but no limit per member.

Open the Books found broad bipartisanship in doling out earmarks. Of the top ten earmarkers, seven were Republicans, and the top three earmarked $1.66 billion. Republicans out-earmarked their Democrat colleagues in 21 states.

There was plenty of waste in FY2023 earmarks, like $5M to the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds, $2M for the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum, $1 million for a splashpad in Michigan, and $1 million for the Macadamia Nut Health Initiative.

Open the Books also found some shocking conflicts of interest in earmarks, including $30 million earmarked by retiring U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy to the University of Vermont Honors College. In May, the university renamed the college after Leahy.

Earmarks have been labeled the “currency of corruption” for a reason, and while Republicans have claimed to reform the process for the next fiscal year, Congress needs to go further and eliminate this wasteful practice entirely like it did in 2011.

By Adam Andrzejewsk – The #WasteOfTheDay is brought to you by the forensic auditors at

This article was originally published by RealClearInvestigations and made available via RealClearWire.

Deneen Borelli

Deneen Borelli is the author of Blacklash: How Obama and the Left are Driving Americans to the Government Plantation. Deneen is a contributor with Newsmax Broadcasting. She is a former Fox News contributor and has appeared regularly on “Hannity,” “Fox & Friends,” “Your World with Neil Cavuto,” and “America’s Newsroom.” She has also appeared on Fox Business Network programs “Making Money with Charles Payne,” “The Evening Edit with Liz MacDonald,” and “Cavuto: Coast to Coast.” Previously, Deneen appeared on MSNBC, CNN, the BBC and C-SPAN. In addition to television, Deneen co-hosted radio programs on the SiriusXM Patriot channel with her husband Tom. Recently, Deneen co-hosted the Reigniting Liberty podcast with Tom. Deneen is a frequent speaker at political events, including the FreedomWorks 9.12.2009 March on D.C. which drew a crowd estimated at over 800,000 people. Deneen is also an Ambassador with, a social media platform that promotes free speech, and with the America First Policy Institute (AFPI) which advances policies that put Americans first. Deneen testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources in May 2011 and before the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee in December 2011. Previously, Deneen was a host, Outreach Director with overseeing its outreach program, a Project 21 Senior Fellow, and Manager of Media Relations with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Prior to joining CORE, Deneen worked at Philip Morris USA for 20 years. During her corporate career at Philip Morris she worked in various positions, her last as Project Management Coordinator in the Information Management department where she was responsible for the department’s mandated quality processes, communications, sales information and database management. Deneen began her Philip Morris career as a secretary and advanced to positions of increasing responsibilities. Deneen worked full-time and attended classes at night for 11 years to earn her B.A. in Managerial Marketing from Pace University, New York City. Deneen served on the Board of Trustees with The Opportunity Charter School in Harlem, New York. She appeared in educational videos for children, worked as a runway fashion model, and auditioned for television commercials. Her interests include ancient history, pistol target shooting, photography, and volunteering at her church. Deneen currently resides in Connecticut with her husband Tom.

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