Last week’s release of FBI documents finally put in writing what nobody had ever said on the record: The FBI suspected that former Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) and lobbyists close to him were running a scheme to funnel earmarks to sham companies and nonprofits to benefit the lawmaker’s friends and former staffers.
Bits and pieces of this story were kicked around for years before Murtha died in February 2010. The Los Angeles Times, Roll Call, the Washington Post and others had documented the odd appearance of earmarks for tiny defense contractors that just happened to open an office in western Pennsylvania and just happened to hire one of the lobbying firms close to Murtha and just happened to begin making campaign donations to Murtha and other Members of Congress close to him.
In the course of noting that former Murtha crony Mark Critz received 52% of his first-quarter contributions from “[d]efense contractors, local business officers and lobbyists that relied on earmarked federal contracts from Murtha” the Washington Post notes this interesting little detail:
Four former lobbyists of the PMA Group, a once-powerful lobbying shop, also chipped in to elect Critz. Murtha arranged for his spending panel to steer hundreds of millions of earmarked contracts to PMA clients. The firm shut its doors amid a criminal investigation scrutinizing more than $1 million dollars in campaign contributions it gave to Murtha and other subcommittee members. Critz’s money came as well from top officers of companies that were longtime beneficiaries of Murtha’s largess in doling out military contracts: Argon ST, Progeny Systems, Concurrent Technologies Corporation, Advanced Acoustic Concepts and Mountaintop Technologies.
Ah, PMA. Did you know that they got $117 million in earmarks from the Democrats in the last ten years? Impressive, in its way.
In 2005, Rep. John P. Murtha announced here that a technology firm was moving into an abandoned plate glass factory. Best of all, he promised, the new firm would generate 140 jobs.
The Pennsylvania Democrat steered $150 million in defense money to Caracal Inc., along with a $3 million grant for factory renovations. “Today’s ribbon-cutting ceremony is yet another indication that our investment in this region’s economic revitalization is paying off,” he said that day. But Caracal never created the jobs the congressman touted. The firm peaked at 10 employees and then folded in early 2008. Once its Murtha-engineered Navy contracts ended, the company could not survive.
The article goes on to note that Rep. Murtha’s earmarks aren’t generating jobs for either the companies that he’s supposedly fostering via earmarking (over 60% have seriously underperformed) or his district (unemployment rates seem to have not been affected by Murtha’s pork habits at all): there’s also a lengthy section where specific firms are discussed in terms of Murtha’s… well, ‘litany of failure’ works as a description. Clearly the man is off of his game; if this was a post about an athlete I’d be counseling voluntary retirement, while he still had his dignity. As he’s a legislator taking my tax money to enrich his cronies and lackeys: scratch out ‘voluntary.’
Rep. John Murtha’s (D-Pa.) campaign has asked the Democrats’ reelection arm to write a memo detailing how he can use funds in his campaign account if he retires.
The office acknowledged asking the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) for the advice, but explained that it did so only in response to a constituent who assumed that members could put their remaining campaign funds to personal use when they retired.
Murtha’s explanation seemed strained to some observers, who said his office could have simply told the constituent that personal use of campaign money is prohibited when a member retires.
Murtha’s problem – aside from being greedily corrupt, of course – is that he’s facing organized opposition in both the general and primary season. It would be a really good thing for the PA Democratic party if Murtha resigned to prepare for his legal defense spend more time with his family. Then again, if Murtha was the sort to think about others…
While I agree with Tim Blair that karma is… kind of entertaining, sometimes… I think that the most important thing that should be taken away from this video is the frustration and worry in our soldiers’ voices as they try to line up a shot that doesn’t endanger either a kid, or some guy just walking along.
By the way: using kids like this is an actual war crime. I note this because those elements of the Left that are now calling for abandoning Afghanistan (a sentiment that I, like POWIP, do not share, and never mind who the President is) can always use this kind of moral and ethical calibration.
Pelosi’s silence on [PMA-linked Rep. Pete] Visclosky [D*, IN] has been deafening considering how quickly she moved to strip committee memberships from the last member of her brood to become the target of a federal investigation, former congressman Jefferson. Rep. Anna Eschoo, a California Democrat and one of Pelosi’s closest friends on the Hill, argues that the evidence that the feds found in Jefferson’s house — $90,000 in cash stuffed in a freezer – was so damning, “the situation was completely different and Nancy took a courageous stand.”
Getting back to the Visclosky matter: the article suggests that Pelosi’s waiting for the Ethics committee to rule on this particular Congressman (not to mention, both Rangel [D*, NY] & Murtha [D*, PA]) before she gets involved further. Which is another way of saying that she’s waiting for the inevitable whitewash before going through the formality of declaring the issue done and buried; expecting a Democratic-controlled panel to seriously inconvenience three senior Democratic legislators is pretty much silly.
This would bug me more, except that the PMA matter is in the hands of the FBI – which means that Madame Speaker doesn’t actually have the power to squash this problem. Although it would be amusing to see her try.
It’s a lovely morning today. The sun is shining down from a brilliantly-azure sky. The birds are singing counterpoint to the steady rumble of people getting up, going to work and living their lives. Somewhere, a child laughs with innocent delight as a sudden breeze stirs the grass, and sends dandelion seeds dancing through the air. And Air Force investigators are charging that various-and-sundry companies linked to Rep. Jack Murtha (and his lobbyist brother Kit Murtha) improperly received and used earmarks funneled to them by him.
When an Air Force command in north Florida sought new battlefield technologies, Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) steered millions in federal dollars its way to hire defense contractors.
The research effort at the Pensacola Air Force base fell apart, however, when investigators found evidence that it was used to improperly pay a series of companies linked to Murtha. A handful of defense firms were paid for work that was never done or not called for in the contracts. Some of the companies involved, based in Wyoming, Florida and Murtha’s district in Pennsylvania, had hidden owners, prosecutors allege; one was secretly owned by the Air Force official who helped approve the payments.
As prosecutors reveal new details of their criminal probe into the $8 million earmark that Murtha arranged for the Air Force project, one familiar player is never mentioned by authorities. Several of the companies had hired the lobbying firm of the lawmaker’s brother, Robert C. “Kit” Murtha.
They’ve already flipped one of the defendants: Richard Ianieri (formerly of Coherent Systems International, one of the companies involved) will be cooperating with the authorities on this and a probably-related kickback case. In other words, this is the point in the ongoing investigation timeline where the investigators have finally taken hold of the loose thread and are prepared to give it a good, hard yank – just to see what happens. This is also the point where people start mumbling things like ‘no wrongdoing has been proven on the part of my client’ rather than confidently shouting it: it’s not yet the point where sitting politicians start discovering a burning need to spend more time with their families, but there’s time for that. Continue reading Jack Murtha(D, PA)-linked companies in Florida corruption probe.
Federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh have charged a former executive for a defense contractor with ties to Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) with taking nearly $200,000 in kickbacks from a subcontractor.
Richard Ianieri, former president and CEO of Coherent Systems International Corp., is accused of accepting the kickbacks from a subcontractor identified only as “K” in court documents filed Monday. The charges came in the form of a criminal information, an indication that Ianieri is working with prosecutors and plans to plead guilty.
As you might remember from the Rezko trial – and that saga isn’t over yet; it’s just still in its Blagojevich phase – these kind of cases take time to build up and play out; so now is the time that you’d be wanting to see the first corruption cases go down. Is Murtha involved? That’s an interesting question… and, given that this is the first election cycle since 2002 where the man has had a primary challenger, the answer to that is probably of interest to more people than myself, or even the rest of the Republican party.
As to opponents in the general: it’s been reported (and assumed) that Bill Russell’s planning on another shot at this seat; and there’s also Tim Burns. Local businessman, looks decent on the issues, not notably involved in blatant acts of federal money patronage and unashamed pork-barrel appropriations; all in all it would make for a refreshing change.