Despite being out of office for over a month, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) designated former U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby the February 2023 "Porker of the Month" for securing $666 million in "pork-barrel" earmarks.
"Pork-barrel," or simply "pork," is a metaphorical term for appropriating government spending for localized projects primarily to bring money to a representative's district.
CAGW is a non-profit that seeks to eliminate government waste and focuses explicitly on pork-barrel spending in government.
Shelby retired from the Senate in January, with U.S. Sen. Katie Britt (R-Montgomery) taking his place. Despite his retirement, CAGW gave Shelby the award based on one of his final actions in Congress.
In December 2022, Shelby included $666 million as part of a $1.7 trillion omnibus bill to fund the federal government through the end of the fiscal year. It was the second year in a row that Shelby took the most earmarked funds to Alabama.
"Sen. Shelby has always added earmarks at a prolific rate," a Wednesday release from CAGW said. "When information on earmarks was available in 2008-2010, he added 424 earmarks costing $905 million. Sen. Shelby has a long history of acquiring wasteful pork-barrel earmarks and has been named CAGW's Porker of the Month six times including today. As a long-time member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, including ranking member before he retired in 2022, Sen. Shelby poured hundreds of millions of dollars in earmarks into the University of Alabama, where multiple buildings on multiple campuses have been named after him and his wife Annette."
CAGW's less-than-prestigious honor of "Porker of the Month" is a long-held tradition highlighting lawmakers' waste. For over 30 years, the organization has released the Congressional Pig Book, an annual compilation of the pork-barrel projects in the federal budget.
"Sen. Shelby's sense of fiscal discipline does not exist," CAGW president Tom Schatz said. "For his entire career, he ignored the glaring red sign that says earmarks are one of the most corrupt, costly, and inequitable practices in the history of Congress. Unfortunately, too many other members of Congress are following his lead by wasting billions of taxpayer dollars on their personal pet projects. Although Sen. Shelby has retired, he left behind a long legacy of wasteful pork-barrel earmarks. For once again securing hundreds of millions in earmarks, Sen. Shelby is an obvious choice for CAGW's January Porker of the Month. Good riddance to the Pork King!"
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