Universities Lead the Way in Earmark/Lobbying Rankings
August 14, 2009

There are some rankings colleges love to rate highly in -- like the various magazine rankings that claim to assess quality -- and others they'd rather be left out of, like those of party schools or worst colleges. This one probably falls somewhere in between: a listing by two consumer watchdog groups that lists organizations that both lobbied the federal government and received the most money in the form of Congressionally directed earmarks. The database, which was put together using the Center for Responsive Politics's data on lobbying and the information on earmarks compiled by Taxpayers for Common Sense, shows universities filling 9 of the 10 top slots, and 13 of the top 20 positions, in a list of organizations that both lobbied the government and benefited from pork barrel projects from their representatives. The University of Alabama led the way with $40.55 million in earmarks (it spent $360,000 on lobbying in 2009 and individuals contributed $138,494 to political candidates). Four of the next five slots were filled by Mississippi universities (U. of, Mississippi State, the University of Mississippi Medical Center, and the University of Southern Mississippi), and one interesting recipient in the top 20 was Teach for America, which spent $509,000 on lobbying and got $2 million in earmarks. The groups' analysis suggests, however, that the universities might be bumped from their top positions in the rankings when all of the 2009 earmarks for the Pentagon are included -- even the universities with the best friends in Congress can't compete with Northrup Grumman and Raytheon when it comes to political might.

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