You have to wonder whether the Online Left finds equivocators like Rep. Jason Altmire (D, PA-04) as insulting as we do (not that progressives have the courage to call their own hypocrites out, of course). Let me set the background: in 2010 Altmire did his level best to look like a mighty pro-life champion, largely because he was running for re-election in a R+6 district (which he ended up winning with only 51% of the vote). Back then it was all about how Altmire absolutely hated taxpayer funding of abortion, and how he’d never support such a thing, and the rest of the spiel that then-Speaker Pelosi graciously allowed him to repeat in order to keep his seat.
Executive summary: two of the least powerful PA Democratic Congressmen have been thrown into Thunderdome and told to fight each other; the other five PA Democrats have been, ah, reassured that their seats are safe; and the nine PA Republicans have had their seats generally tweaked and shored up to minimize any possibility of losing their seats any time soon.
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.
Also the Pennsylvania, [Arkansas,] and Kentucky primaries, but hold that thought for a moment.
There is a special election today between Tim Burns and Mark Critz. The Republican candidate is fighting a two-to-one registration advantage, a contested primary on the other side scheduled to boost the other side’s turnout, and a media environment that will grudgingly score a Republican win while eagerly waiting to score a Republican loss – but he’s still (barely) ahead anyway. So now is the time to finish the job. And remember: there is a primary and a special election today. So, if you can vote in PA-12, you have to vote twice. If you’re entitled to a Republican ballot, you should vote as you please in the primary… but Republicans will be voting for Tim Burns in the special.
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.
Buoyed by an electorate that is exceptionally sour on national Democrats, Republican Tim Burns has a 44-41 lead over Democrat Mark Critz in the special election to replace John Murtha in the House.
…Burns is winning over 22% of the Democratic vote compared to Critz’s 10% of the Republican vote. Burns also has a 51-31 lead with independents, although there are fewer of them in this district than most.
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…
Well, first he was babbling about how nobody expected unemployment to get this high, and how he didn’t vote for the stimulus because it wasn’t big enough, and then he got into the entire maglev thing… anyway, I’ve cut up and laid out the relevant bits. It needs a soundtrack, but I couldn’t think of anything that would mix nonsensical and doom-laden well enough.
You know what would make me happy? The NRCC coming up with a good challenger to this guy (who, might I add, took money from notorious, now-raided-and-defunct lobbyists PMA Group). That would make me happy.
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.