Thursday, February 19, 2009

Earmarks? What earmarks?

BUMPED TO UPDATE: New details from Congressional Quarterly's Jonathan Allen and Alexander Knott:
More than 100 House members secured earmarks in a major spending bill for clients of a single lobbying firm — The PMA Group — known for its close ties to John P. Murtha, the congressman in charge of Pentagon appropriations. . . .
In the spending bill managed by Murtha, the fiscal 2008 Defense appropriation, 104 House members got earmarks for projects sought by PMA clients, according to Congressional Quarterly's analysis of a database constructed by Ashdown's group.
Those House members, plus a handful of senators, combined to route nearly $300 million in public money to clients of PMA through that one law (PL 110-116). . . .
Indiana Rep. Peter J. Visclosky [D-Ind.], who serves on Murtha's subcommittee and additionally is chairman of the subcommittee that allocates money for the Pentagon's nuclear programs, earmarked $23.8 million for PMA clients in the fiscal 2008 defense spending bill.
His former chief of staff, Richard Kaelin, lobbies for PMA, as does Melissa Koloszar, a former top aide to defense appropriator James P. Moran , D-Va.
Moran sponsored $10.8 million for PMA clients, and Rep. Norm Dicks , D-Wash., another member of the subcommittee, sponsored $12.1 million.
Visclosky raked in $219,000 in campaign donations from PMA and its employees since 2001. That's more money than he spent in three of his 13 elections.
Murtha's political committees have collected $143,600 in contributions from PMA's employees and its political action committee during the same period.
Moran ranks third, having taken $125,250 in PMA contributions since 2001.
Dicks is fourth at $91,600.
Yeah, so while the lede of the CQ story portrays this as a bipartisan scandal, in fact all four of the top PMA money-getters were Democrats. Sigh.

"There's a potentially big story brewing on Capitol Hill. . . . Apparently 104 members of Congress of both parties -- 42 Republicans and 62 Democrats -- secured earmarks for a lobbying firm linked to Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) in a single bill. The earmarks were inserted in a bill Murtha controlled as the defense appropriations subcommittee chairman. The firm's executives and clients are among Murtha's biggest sources of campaign contributions."
Huh. Good thing Nancy Pelosi ended that "culture of corruption," right? Somebody should write a book.

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