Obama Lists Requests for Pet-Project Funding

By Matthew Mosk
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 14, 2008

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) disclosed yesterday the more than half a billion dollars' worth of pet projects, or earmarks, he sought to fund during his first two years in the Senate, and he immediately called on rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) to do the same.

Obama released the list as Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, championed a one-year moratorium on earmarks, which the Senate took up yesterday. Obama and Clinton back the moratorium.

Obama had already published his 2007 requests, but he faced pressure on the campaign trail to release the ones for 2005 and 2006.

Philippe Reines, a senior adviser to Clinton, said in an e-mail that she "will make public the requests she submits this year," though he did not say when that will happen. He noted that Clinton has announced the earmarks she has won, but he did not say whether she will match Obama's disclosure and reveal all of her requests.

Obama has pledged to make Washington more transparent if he is elected president, and his campaign cast the disclosure as part of his call for more openness.

But Obama's list raised questions because it includes $8 million for a defense contractor that has ties to one of his most prodigious campaign fundraisers. According to the earmark disclosure, the money was for a project overseen by General Dynamics. Obama's Illinois finance chairman, James S. Crown, serves on the company's board of directors, and his family holds a sizable stake in the firm.

Crown and his wife, Paula Crown, are members of Obama's national finance committee and have raised more than $200,000 for the campaign, according to Obama's campaign Web site.

In an e-mail, James Crown said he has "never discussed any General Dynamics program or contract issues with the Senator" and was "unaware of this request."

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