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Defeated ND congressman was earmark king

For Earl Pomeroy, the proof is in the pork.

North Dakota's Democratic congressman says the distinction of securing the most earmark dollars of any U.S. House member shows he's had victories in fighting for the state's interests and priorities.

For the 2010 fiscal year, Pomeroy brought nearly $150.2 million back to his home district, according to an analysis of federal budget records by Washington publication Congressional Quarterly.

Pomeroy was ninth on CQ's list in 2009 by bringing back $169.2 million worth of funding.

As a whole, North Dakota ranked No. 2 for receiving the most earmark dollars per capita in 2010.

Earmarks, or pork-barrel spending, refer to congressional funding requests that directly benefit a representative's home district.

Pomeroy's requests targeted key priorities such as education, research, technology, the state's Air Force bases in Minot and Grand Forks and flood control projects in the Red River Valley.

Among the requests was $1.6 million to fund studies for the Fargo-Moorhead diversion.

This type of favoritism in appropriating federal dollars has drawn criticism from some in Congress who view earmarks as an abuse of power and a waste of limited resources.

Some have called for a complete ban on the practice.

Despite the controversy, Pomeroy said he hasn't been "bashful at all" about "making sure we've got the funding that our needs require."

"There have been some that have abused the earmark process by basically funding pet projects, not district projects," Pomeroy said. "That's never been the case for the work we've done for North Dakota."

He lists all of his funding requests on his House website.

He said he also works closely with Democratic Sens. Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan to set funding priorities as a team, and the delegation routinely issues announcements about approved funding for North Dakota communities and projects.

"We're not trying to sneak things in in the dead of night," Pomeroy said. "These are very legitimate needs in North Dakota. I'm proud to fight and win the funding we require in these various areas."

Being one of only seven members in Congress whose district encompasses an entire state, Pomeroy said the responsibility is greater to reflect a wide range of priorities.

"When one represents an entire state, it just stands to reason you're going to have more interests you're representing," he said. "North Dakota has one vote in the House, and it will always be important for our representative to be fighting for the issues and priorities unique to our state."

He added, "I look at that evaluation and I think, 'Well, good, that's proof that North Dakota interests were being adequately defended.'"