Life in the Land of Few Earmarks

A spot in Orange County on a sunny day

It is impossible to say exactly what the decision this spring by Republicans in Congress to completely quit sponsoring earmarks will ultimately cost Orange County in terms of federal dollars.

We don’t know how many earmarks Orange County’s five Republican congressional representatives would have sponsored had they not made the pledge. However, it is fair to say that millions of dollars that the GOP delegation has steered the county’s way in recent years won’t be coming over the next fiscal year.

Either that, or Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez is going to be one of the most sought-after lawmakers in Washington.

A quickie analysis of an earmarks database compiled by the website LegiStorm shows that $85 million in earmarks were sponsored solely by one of the county’s Republican congressmen from fiscal 2008 through fiscal 2010.

Topping the list was Rep. Ken Calvert, who sponsored $55.1 million. Next was Rep. Gary Miller with $15.2 million, followed by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher with $8.8 million and Rep. Ed Royce with $5.8 million.

Only Rep. John Campbell’s constituents will be completely unfazed by the pledge. His total for the three years was zero.

The ramifications of this pledge have already started to appear in the county’s various halls of government.

At a recent meeting of the Orange County Supervisors, the county’s lobbyist in Washington D.C. basically said that the county will have a rough road trying to get money for projects such as the Prado Dam flood control project because of the delegation’s pledge.

We’ll be combing through the database over the next couple days to get a sense of where the GOP delegation has steered money in recent years and will be posting a rundown.

Meanwhile, if you have anything we should be looking into on this issue please email me at

Correction: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this post stated that Orange County’s Republican congressional delegation steered $85 million in earmarks to the county over the past three years. While that is the correct amount in earmarks sponsored soley by the Republicans duiring that time, not all of that money came to Orange County. We regret the error.


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