Watchdog groups, lobbyists propose earmark reforms

HONOLULU (AP) - Watchdog groups are proposing new rules they say would shrink the link between political contributors and congressionally directed spending - also known as earmarks.

The proposals were unveiled Tuesday by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Citizens Against Government Waste, Taxpayers for Common Sense, and Public Citizen. A bipartisan group of lobbyists also signed on.

Their ideas include limiting earmarks to campaign contributors, barring legislative staff from fundraising activities, and random audits of earmark spending.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii sponsors dozens of earmarks that benefit the state in annual appropriation bills. Last year, he called himself "the No. 1 earmarks guy" in Congress.

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