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Earlier this month, Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) celebrated the 30th anniversary of its "Congressional Pig Book."

The document identified 5,138 earmarks at a taxpayer cost of $18.9 billion.

Leading the way on earmarks was Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa), the ranking member on the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, who also has a long legacy of bringing home the bacon.

According to CAGW, much of Shelby's total was for expanding the Port of Mobile, a much-celebrated project by local elected officials. That included $62 million in the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act and $200 million in the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.

CAGW president Tom Schatz said Shelby outpaced U.S. Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.), who had the second-largest total by 70%.

"This year, he got the 'Prince of Pork' award for over $647,936,000 for 16 earmarks," Schatz said during an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5's "The Jeff Poor Show" on Friday. "To put that in perspective, it's $270 million more, 70% higher than the number-two legislator, Congressman Brian Mast of Florida. He got $378 million. That's a huge difference. Probably one of the largest differences we've seen in a long time."

According to Schatz, the merits of the earmark are not judged by his organization. Instead, the process of how the appropriation made it into law determines what qualifies for the "Congressional Pig Book."

Also included in Shelby's total was money awarded to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for various projects, including $22.6 million to the Alabama rivers and lakes, $3 million for Bayou Coden, $5 million for Bayou La Batre, $27.8 million for the Black Warrior and Tombigbee Rivers, $4.5 million for the Bon Secour River, $2 million for Perdido Pass and $6 million with U.S. Rep. Jerry Carl (R-Mobile) for Dauphin Island.

Shelby was also able to earmark $60 million for the University of South Alabama, $50 million for the University of Alabama and $76 million for UAB's Heersink School of Medicine.

Alabama lawmakers combined secured 38 earmarks for more than $659 million in total, making Alabama the sixth-most porkiest per capita according to CAGW.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email jeff.poor@1819News.com.

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