‘Most Ethical Congress in History.’ Man, that *never* gets old.

I’m going to miss laughing at that notion, starting January 2011.

Forget ‘outraged’: if anyone is surprised, then they haven’t been paying attention.

Lobbyists and corporate officials talked bluntly in e-mail exchanges about connections between making generous campaign donations and securing federal funds through members of an important House Appropriations subcommittee, according to not-yet-public documents reviewed by ethics investigators.

In summer 2007, for example, senior executives at [Innovative Concepts] tried to figure out which of them would buy a ticket to a wine-tasting fundraiser for Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.), a member of the Appropriations subcommittee on defense. At the time, the company sought help from Moran’s office in securing contracts through special earmarks added to the defense bill.


The fundraiser was hosted by the PMA Group, a powerful lobbying firm whose unusual success in obtaining “earmarked” contracts from members of the military subcommittee was a key focus of a recent House ethics investigation.

Moran raked in $91,900 in campaign checks to his personal campaign and leadership PAC that day. He secured an $800,000 earmark for Innovative Concepts in the 2008 defense appropriations bill.

Or they don’t really want to. Which I can sort of understand; after all, the revelation that one has not only been lied too, but that one has enthusiastically participated in being lied to in order to get… nothing at all? Yes, that would strike someone squarely in the self-worth. I’d feel sorry for that, except that I have to live in the same corrupt political atmosphere.

At any rate, feel free to read the whole article, particularly the bits where the Democratic-run legislature let off the all-but-one Democratic appropriators, despite the fairly clear understanding that money was expected, and that money would be taken. Also, note that Jim Moran has at least two people on the GOP ready to replace him: Matthew Berry, who just picked up the uber-critical Volokh Conspiracy endorsement (via Instapundit); and Patrick Murray, who I just missed interviewing at CPAC. I would say that they’d both be superior to having Moran in that seat, and it’d be true: it’d also be implicitly insulting to either to suggest that they wouldn’t automatically clear that particular bar anyway.

Moe Lane

Crossposted to RedState.

Jack Murtha (D): INCOMPETENT Earmarker?

I mean, it’s bad enough that he’s doing it: but apparently it’s not even working.

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.’

Moe Lane

Crossposted to RedState.

Apparently Rep. Anna Eschoo (D*, CA) has a different definition…

…of ‘courageous stand‘ than I, and probably you, do:

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.

Moe Lane


Crossposted to RedState.

Is Pelosi holding off on the PMA probe because of Jim Moran?

Trying to ensure that Brian Moran’s bid for Virginia Governor isn’t overshadowed by his brother going to jail is as good an explanation as any for the Democrats’ unwillingness to throw a few of their own to the wolves.  Although Chris Stirewalt’s theory (H/T: Instapundit):

Americans generally have low ethical expectations for their politicians. A little double-talking or some womanizing or an oversized ego have long been considered pretty normal for elected officials. Bill Clinton wasn’t the first of his kind, just the apotheosis.

And despite the worshipful tone taken by many toward President Barack Obama, most Americans still know better than to take politicians too seriously.

But there is an invisible, shifting line that anyone in public life mustn’t cross.

What keeps politics interesting, though, is that no one ever seems to learn the lesson.

does have the virtue of simplicity, and you can take that any way that you like.

Moe Lane

Crossposted to RedState.

Murtha’s Nephew under the media microscope.

[UPDATE] Welcome, Instapundit readers.

When a newspaper is associating pictures like this:


……to stories about said politician’s nephew: well, articles like this are almost redundant.

Nephew Mentioned Rep. Murtha in Dealings as Contractor

Robert C. Murtha Jr. has made a sizable living for years working with companies that rely on Pentagon contracts over which his uncle, Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), holds considerable sway.

He has maintained that his uncle played no role in his defense-related work, much of it secured without competition. Newly obtained documents, however, show Robert Murtha mentioning his influential family connection as leverage in his business dealings and holding unusual power with the military. The documents add to mounting questions about Rep. Murtha, whose use of federal earmarks to help favored defense companies and his relationship with a former lobbying firm are under scrutiny by federal investigators.

The visual cue is fairly obvious, after all. Continue reading Murtha’s Nephew under the media microscope.

Anti-corruption groups want PMA probe.

This will do. For a start. Via Geraghty:

Watchdog Groups Join Calls for PMA Probe

House Democratic leaders face new pressure from four watchdog groups usually allied with them to open an investigation into the ties between three powerful Democrats and the now-defunct lobbying firm The PMA Group.

Democracy 21, Common Cause, Public Citizen and U.S. PIRG on Thursday called on the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to probe the relationship PMA had with Democratic Reps. John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania, Peter J. Visclosky of Indiana and James P. Moran of Virginia. The lawmakers secured lucrative earmarks for defense contractors represented by The PMA Group and received political donations from family members of the lobbying firm’s founder.

As the article notes – and has been noted in the past – this issue has been brought up numerous times by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Speaker Pelosi and the rest of her crew keep squashing it. It’s going to be harder to do that going forward, if groups like US PIRG are going to be pushing the issue. Of course, it’s entirely possible that what the normally Democratic-allied groups are doing here is trying to create a firebreak; get a few of the absolute worst cases tossed overboard and claim it’s a housecleaning.

I hope not – I like to think the best of people, for as long as I can – but even if it is a cynical ploy I’d still favor running with it. After all, there’s no guarantee that said cynical ploy would work.

Moe Lane

Crossposted to RedState.

Best Served Cold Watch: Obama abandoning Murtha.

I have to admit that when it comes to avenging slights made against it this administration has both total recall and infinite patience. What’s below (via Instapundit) is probably the most important part of this New York Times article about Jack Murtha’s travails:

While past presidents often courted Mr. Murtha with phone calls and private meetings, President Obama has extended to him no such courtesies. On a visit to the White House, the lawmaker told senior defense officials that it would be “foolish” and “ridiculous” to cancel all of a $13 billion contract to buy new presidential helicopters, as he later recounted to a defense industry newsletter. But Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has insisted on scrapping the deal as a symbol of waste.

And in a recent meeting with the secretary, Mr. Murtha pushed a plan to divide a $35 billion contract to build a new airborne refueling tanker between two rival contractors — a compromise that pleases both but would cost the government much more. Mr. Gates listened with little response, several people briefed on their conversation said, but he later dismissed it.

You see, restrictions on how, how often, and how much one may trade favors for cash can be finessed. There’s always a loophole or an exception; in fact, often simple indifference on the part of those with oversight can be enough. But Jack Murtha’s power comes from his supposed access. He is not supposed to be one who can be slighted – or worse, ignored.
Continue reading Best Served Cold Watch: Obama abandoning Murtha.

Carolyn McCarthy (D, NY-04): PMA Porker.

I mention this not so much because she’s unique – she isn’t, especially among Democrats – but because she has her eye on higher office these days.

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) has made it clear that she may launch a primary challenge against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), whom McCarthy deems too conservative to represent one of the most liberal states in the country.

But McCarthy may have a problem of her own to clear up before she sets her sights on higher office. McCarthy’s top contributor this cycle is the now-defunct PMA Group.

Via Instapundit. The article goes on to note that McCarthy helped block an ethics probe into PMA’s shenanigans (presumably, the one of the ones initiated by Republican Jeff Flake). Say what you like about now-Senator Gillibrand, but her name is conspicuously absent from this list

Crossposted to RedState.

PMA head used family members to pay off Democrat appropriators.

I’m not a federal prosecutor. That means that I don’t have to bend over backward to avoid making what is really a fairly obvious statement. Via Instapundit:

PMA Lobbyist, Relatives Gave Lawmakers $1.5 Million Since 2000

A defense lobbyist and his family made $1.5 million in political contributions from 2000 through 2008 as the lobbyist’s now-embattled firm helped clients win billions of dollars in federal contracts. A sizable chunk of those campaign dollars went to the House members who control Pentagon spending.

Paul Magliocchetti, founder of the PMA Group, and nine of his relatives — two children, his daughter-in-law, his current wife, his ex-wife and his ex-wife’s parents, sister and brother-in-law — poured contributions into the coffers of candidates, political action committees and national and state party committees, according to a CQ review of public documents.

Continue reading PMA head used family members to pay off Democrat appropriators.