Politician earmarks budget items, gets campaign contributions from recipients: It's not exactly a groundbreaking scoop, but the news in this case is that the politician is Rick Santorum, who The New York Times points out has tried to style himself as a reformer. The guy spent 18 years as a congressman and then a senator, though, so it's not really surprising that he accumulated a good deal of what The Times calls "prowess as a Washington insider." It's a role he really wants to play down, and the Republican field has been bashing him for the extent of Santorum's record securing earmarks for contributions. Basically, The Times' big dossier of Santorum's record of earmarks works as a fact-checking exercise that confirms his opponents' claims that he's familiar with the role of pork barrel politician.

The specifics are harder to track down in Santorum's case because campaign laws requiring disclosure of earmarks didn't go into effect until after 2006, which was the year Santorum lost his senate seat. So researchers had to do some heavy legwork to document Santorum's record of earmarks. The Times cites the work of Taxpayers for Common Sense, which "went through a laborious process of matching up thousands of projects in the legislation with news releases issued by lawmakers, as well as other sources" to track down who was in favor of earmarks in a defense spending bill.